Occupied Palestinian Territory

Switzerland is committed to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a negotiated two-state solution. Its strategy focuses on protection and resilience, and seeks to mitigate the negative effects of the Israeli occupation and the internal Palestinian division. In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Switzerland is currently active in the fields of rule of law and protection of human rights, local governance, and agro-economic development.

Map of the occupied Palestinian territory
© FDFA

More than two decades after the Oslo agreement of 1993, a negotiated solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict still remains a distant prospect. The current political stalemate prevents the creation of an independent, contiguous, viable and democratic Palestinian state. The continued Israeli military occupation and expanding settlement policy, the limited powers of the Palestinian Authority and the persisting intra-Palestinian division worsen the human rights and humanitarian situation of the Palestinians, curtail economic growth and weaken the rule of law and good governance. 

The overall goal of the Swiss cooperation strategy is to improve the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and to contribute to creating an independent, contiguous, viable and democratic Palestinian state based on the borders of June 1967. The current strategy focuses on promotion and respect of human rights and international humanitarian law and on the protection and resilience of the Palestinian population, and seeks to mitigate the negative effects of the occupation and the internal Palestinian division. It further aims to enhance the basis for democratic and inclusive development (for the most vulnerable) and to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians.

Rule of law and protection

Protecting and promoting human rights is a cornerstone of Switzerland’s engagement in the oPt. Switzerland aims to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in the oPt in order to create the conditions for a just and lasting peace based on a negotiated two-state solution. The occupation’s burden on the population needs to be reduced. At the same time Palestinian duty-bearers throughout the oPt must implement the rule of law. 

Supporting the Civil Society

The Swiss government supports human rights organizations in many countries around the world, including in Israel and the oPt, understanding that their work and their sheer existence is essential for free and pluralist societies. Organizations of the civil society have a key role to play in promoting and advocating for human rights and international humanitarian law, in documenting human rights violations and in providing legal advice and assistance to the population.

Supporting the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) is the national human rights commission of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It monitors the PA institutions’ compliance with their human rights obligations to assist those institutions in respecting and promoting the human rights of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Switzerland has funded the ICHR since 2002 via a consortium of five donors.

Supporting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the only legally mandated organization to protect and promote the enjoyment and full realization, by all people, of all rights established in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws and treaties. The OHCHR documents violations and abuses of international human right law, violations of international humanitarian law, empowers people to realize their rights, and strives to hold duty bearers accountable. Switzerland supports the OHCHR in the oPt since 2012.

Human rights and human security

International humanitarian law

Effective service delivery through local governance

Switzerland supports local authorities and civil society organisations in marginalised areas in order to improve the provision of quality services. SDC fosters better governance by helping vulnerable communities become more involved in decision-making processes and making authorities more accountable. Switzerland asks that special attention be given to the provision of basic services for the most vulnerable populations such as people living in the Gaza Strip, Bedouin communities as well as people living in areas of the West Bank that are particularly affected by the occupation policy.

The Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF)

Switzerland has supported the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), a trust fund established by the Palestinian Authority and funded by various donors, since 2013.  The MDLF implements projects to improve the delivery of local infrastructure and municipal services, promote economic development, and improve municipal efficiency and accountability. Since 2017, Switzerland also supports a local development programme in the Gaza Strip which focuses on selected municipalities to provide small-scale infrastructure projects (kindergarten center, sewage system, small road) for- and with the involvement - of vulnerable communities in decision-making.

Advocacy and Good Governance

Agro-economic development

Switzerland strives to improve productivity and access to markets for small farmers. In this sector, SDC works with small-scale agribusinesses, cooperatives, private sector actors and national authorities in order to contribute to an economic environment conducive to sustainable development and to reduce poverty. It also seeks to challenge economic constraints and remove barriers limiting access to market and trade.

Supporting farmers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

To reduce poverty in the West Bank, Switzerland funds a programme implemented by Oxfam International in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to support poor farmers in increasing their productivity and improving their livelihoods. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to build a resilient economy with equitable agricultural growth, whilst contributing to protect small-scale producers’ entitlements to natural resources and access to markets.

Agriculture and food security

Multilateral collaboration, support to UNRWA

Switzerland works in close relationship with UN organizations and the ICRC and supports them in their capacity to respond to emergencies and to advocate on the international scene on behalf of the most vulnerable populations.

In the absence of a peaceful solution to the conflict, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) remains the most important UN partner for Switzerland in the region. UNRWA provides basic services to some 5 million Palestinian Refugees (of which more than 2 million live in the oPt) and promotes respect for their rights.  Switzerland values UNRWA’s capacity to deliver both short-term emergency services and longer-term human development programmes for Palestinian refugees and its contribution towards stability and peace in the region.

Approach and Swiss partners

The Swiss cooperation strategy for the oPt 2015–2018 (extended until 2019) sets out strategic priorities for SDC and the Human Security Division (FDFA HSD). To maximise the results from Switzerland’s commitment, its strategy for the oPt combines humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peace promotion – working tools of both the SDC and HSD – in the spirit of a comprehensive and coherent approach. 

The Strategy was developed in close coordination with Swiss representations on the ground and through a consultative process with key partners and stakeholders in the oPt.

All programmes take a conflict-sensitive approach, follow the principles of good governance and incorporate gender considerations. 

Switzerland’s main partners in the oPt include:

  • Local and national authorities
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • UN agencies: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
  • Israeli and Palestinian civil society organisations, Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO), Gaza community Mental Health Programme, and many others.
  • International NGOs and partners:  Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), Diakonia, Oxfam International, and others.

Current project

Object 25 – 27 of 27

Support to Village Councils in the West Bank with a focus on Area C

01.11.2016 - 31.12.2020

SDC will support local government units to improve the delivery of basic services in marginalized rural areas of the West Bank with a focus on Area C. This intervention is consistent with the State-building agenda which forms the basis for SDC development programme in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the promotion of human rights/international humanitarian law and the alleviation of poverty. It is aligned to the Palestinian Authority’s policy framework for Area C. Its operating modalities are harmonized with like-minded donors in the local governance sector.


Capacity building programme in support of the Palestinian National Authority – Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures

01.12.2015 - 31.12.2019

The single phase project seeks to develop national sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures responsive to World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements, contributing to enhance domestic and international trust and demand for Palestinian agriculture and agro-industrial products. The intervention will increase potential for Palestinian agro-economic growth and ultimately contribute to increase income of farmers. Last but not least, the project will contribute to develop and create pre-conditions for the implementation of a national food safety strategy, enhancing food sovereignty in Palestine.


JPO Programme, Volées 2013-2018, Humanitarian Aid HA

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

The aim of the programme is to increase Switzerland's presence within the UN system. This measure also meets the more general aim of strengthening the influence and quality of Switzerland's political dialogue with the target agencies. The JPO programme will eventually serve to intensify this political dialogue and increase Switzerland's capacity to monitor the work of agencies through direct contact with the JPOs recruited through this programme.

Object 25 – 27 of 27