In 1997, representatives of the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and the Palestinian city of Qalqilya traveled together to Gainesville, Florida, to seek the assistance of the University of Florida in building a water treatment plant. That event set in motion the establishment of the first trilateral sister city relationship with an American, Israeli and Palestinian city. Gainesville, Kfar Saba, and Qalqilya partnered in a new paradigm for creating collaborative relationships at the municipal level. While city leaders from Kfar Saba and Qalqilya did not believe they could establish a bilateral relationship between their cities, they eagerly endorsed Gainesville Mayor Bruce Delaney’s proposal to form a trilateral relationship, with Gainesville serving as a bridge between Palestinian and Israeli communities. Elected leaders in all three cities provided the legitimacy and credibility for residents to comfortably take on the role of citizen diplomats, leading to the development of trusting relationships that have endured and continued to strengthen, despite political and physical barriers.
Gainesville helped establish a citizen diplomat relationship between Kfar Saba and Qalqilya. In 1998 mayor Pegeen Hanrahan linked the two cities. A group of people from Gainesville including the mayor went to hand-deliver the proposal to Kfar Saba’s mayor. Not long after they got the message than Kfar Saba sent a group of people to Gainesville. They signed the proposal in August of 2000. One of the goals they had was to explore the possibilities of cooperation between the cities.
Exchanges & Delegations
In 1997, representatives of the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and the Palestinian city of Qalqilya traveled together to Gainesville, Florida, to seek the assistance of the University of Florida in building a water treatment plant.
The resolution was hand-delivered to the mayors of Kfar Saba and Qalqilya by a delegation led by Gainesville Mayor-Commissioner Pro-Temp Pegeen Hanrahan in 1998.
Reciprocal Delegations from Kfar Saba and Qalqilya, visited Gainesville from July 9-20, 2000, to further explore the possibilities of mutually-beneficial cooperation among the three cities.
On September 26, 2011, Manal, Steve and Paul led a delegation including Gainesville florida Mayor Craig Lowe and City Commissioner Randy Wells, the art and music directors of a Gainesville school, and a Los Angeles-based Hip Hop group (Luminaries) as citizen diplomats to meet their counterparts in Israeli and Palestinian communities.
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe brought a delegation in 2017 but unfortunately he was unable to meet with anyone in Kfar Saba.
In the summer of 2019, Gainesville Artist and Teacher Terrence Ho met with the government of Kfar Saba as a citizen diplomat, renewing and re-strengthening the ties between the two cities.
- They met at Santa Fe Zoo books change tips on the Santa Fe Zoo helped Kfar Saba by giving them some tips on their Zoo.
- Water treatment plant project
- An Israel film crew capture more than 50 hours of amazing encounters with Mayors Governors and national leaders.
Citizen Diplomacy Initiative
“We value the relationship between Gainesville and Kfar Saba, and would like to see it continue for the mutual benefit of our residents. I believe that people-to-people programs such as ours offer an opportunity for our citizens to participate in creating a better future for themselves and their children and making the world safer for future generations.”Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe (from a letter to Kfar Saba Mayor Rafi Saar)
Sister Cities of Gainesville Website
West Lawn Sculpture for Alachua County Admnistration Building
Educational Video about Kfar Saba for citizens of Gainesville