The Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018

Occupied Palestinian territory

A child setting in-front of her house, Al-Shate’ Camp, Gaza, April 2015. © Ali Ashour, SDC

Intoduction: 

The Cooperation Strategy for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) 2015-2018 is an operational framework that sets out strategic priorities for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Human Security Division (HSD) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

In line with Switzerland’s commitment to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a negotiated two-state solution, this strategy aims at contributing to the establishment of an independent, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestinian state. SDC and HSD engagements towards this goal focus on the promotion of and respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, on strengthening local governance and effective service delivery, and on supporting economic development, in particular in the agricultural sector. It also complements the Swiss support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic services to Palestine Refugees and promotes the respect of their rights in the region.

The present strategy was developed in close coordination with Swiss representations on the ground and FDFA in Bern, and through a consultative process with key partners and stakeholders in the oPt. It takes account of the political and socioeconomic trends and the developmental and humanitarian challenges arising therefrom, and builds on the lessons learned from the previous Cooperation Strategy (2010-2014). Because of the continued deterioration of the situation, the strategy focuses on vulnerable and marginalised areas and seeks to enhance resilience of vulnerable communities. Gender equality, human rights based approach and conflict sensitive programme management are transversal themes of the strategy.

In the spirit of a comprehensive approach and with a view to maximising the results expected from the Swiss engagement, the Strategy combines the working tools of both SDC and HSD. Peace promotion activities in the oPt and Israel that complement but are not covered by the present strategy are also carried out by HSD.

The strategy is structured in three main parts: the first part reflects on contextual developments since the previous Cooperation Strategy and programmatic implications for Switzerland; the second part outlines the objectives of the Swiss engagement as per each domain of intervention; the last part describes implementation and monitoring modalities.

Objectives

The overall goal of the present cooperation strategy is to enhance the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to contribute to creating a democratic and viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. The strategy focuses on protection and resilience, and seeks to reduce the negative effects of the occupation and the internal Palestinian division. It further aims to enhance the basis for democratic and pro-poor development. Three domains of intervention have been defined.

The current strategy is implemented jointly by SDC and the Human Security Division (HSD).

Domain 1: Rule of law and protection"Contribute to the promotion of and respect for international law, in particular international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in view of ensuring protection of the Palestinian population’s rights in the oPt by all duty bearers."The objective of this domain is to:

As an important actor in the field of human rights and advocacy, Switzerland aims to strengthen the rights of Palestinians in the oPt in order to create the conditions for a viable and sustainable two-state solution. On the one hand, the impacts of the occupation on the population need to be rolled back while at the same time the rule of law should be practised by Palestinian duty bearers throughout the oPt.

The activities in this domain will be implemented by SDC and HSD in close coordination with other offices within FDFA. Main partners will include Palestinian and Israeli civil societies, international organisations and international NGOs.

Domain 2: Effective service delivery through local governance The objective of this domain is to: "Strengthen local and national institutions in providing public services in a transparent, inclusive and accountable manner."

Switzerland will support local authorities and civil society organisations in marginalised areas to improve the provision of quality services and strengthen social accountability. The following three lines of activities will be implemented: 1) Enhance the capacities of selected local authorities to provide quality public services to vulnerable communities without discrimination; 2) Strengthen the ability of selected vulnerable communities to actively participate in local decision-making and to hold their authorities accountable; 3) enable municipalities and grassroots organisations to participate in the relief and recovery efforts in Gaza, while ensuring effective participation of all citizens.

Cultural activities will be supported as a means to increase public debate on democracy and governance and to encourage youth participation.

Domain 3: Agro-economic development The objective of this domain is to: "Focus on improving small-scale agribusiness holders’ performance and resilience and contribute to a more conducive economic environment."

Switzerland will support economic development that creates sustainable employment and income opportunities for small-scale agribusiness holders. While most donors concentrate on macro-economic reforms, Switzerland will focus its intervention on market-oriented initiatives targeting the poor and the disadvantaged. This approach should strengthen resilience and protection from displacement for marginalised communities in the most vulnerable areas of the West Bank and Gaza.

In practice, Switzerland’s objectives are: 1) improve access to quality agricultural services in selected value chains (supply side); 2) improve the productivity and competitiveness of small-scale agribusinesses (market side); 3) promote Palestinian policies and regulations that benefit small producers, and support advocacy and coordination work that challenge economic constraints and impediments. Unions and cooperatives have an important role to play in this domain. Consequently, strengthening their capacities and governance structures will be an integral part of the programme.