Relations between Switzerland and the Palestinian Authority are marked by the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Switzerland seeks to maintain good relations with both sides. The cornerstones of Swiss foreign policy in the Middle East are peace-building measures, development cooperation, humanitarian aid, as well as the fostering of International Law, in particular human rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud to Bern in November 2012 marked the beginning of political consultations between Switzerland and the Palestinian Authority.
In the occupied Palestinian territory, Switzerland is represented with a Representation Office in Ramallah, while it maintains a Cooperation Office of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in East Jerusalem.
Economic relations between Switzerland and the occupied Palestinian territory are modest. Since 1999, there exists a free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The Swiss Import Promotion Programme (Sippo) supports economic development in the domains of food specialities and home textiles.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Scholars and artists from the occupied Palestinian territory can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland is committed to a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict and to the respect for International Humanitarian Law. Switzerland pursues the objective of a negotiated, just, and sustainable peace between Israel and an independent and viable Palestinian State within secure and internationally recognized borders. Switzerland believes that a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict must meet the following criteria:
- Lasting peace in the entire region based on International Law
- The recognition of Israel's right to exist, particularly its right to security within safe and internationally recognized borders
- The recognition of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, along with their right to set up a viable State in accord with UN Security Council Resolution 1397
- A fair and comprehensive negotiating solution to the issue of Palestine refugees
- A negotiated settlement on the final status of Jerusalem.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland supports the Palestinian civilian population via various humanitarian organizations, as well as by engaging in development cooperation, in particular in the promotion of human rights and good governance.
Swiss citizens in the occupied Palestinian territory
At the end of 2015, there were 83 Swiss citizens living in the occupied Palestinian territory.
History of bilateral relations
Prior to the foundation of the State of Israel, Switzerland was represented in Palestine by a Consulate in Jerusalem and by a consular agency in Tel Aviv. Since 1948, it has in particular been supporting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). In 1993, Switzerland's humanitarian aid was supplemented by a development programme. On the basis of the Oslo Peace Process, Switzerland opened a Cooperation Office in East Jerusalem in 1994. In 2001, this was followed by the opening of a Representation Office to the Palestine Authority in Ramallah.