Middle East

In the Middle East, Switzerland's approach is anchored in the vision set out in the UN Security Council resolutions: two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders. In this context, Switzerland supports inclusive dialogue, the promotion of human rights and respect for international law. 

The humanitarian aid Switzerland provides, based on fundamental humanitarian principles, aims to protect the lives and health of human beings. With its development support, Switzerland promotes innovation and the creation of job opportunities for young people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Switzerland is committed to women's rights and greater gender equality.

Map of the occupied Palestinian territory
© FDFA

The Middle East conflict is situated in a shifting regional landscape and faces major obstacles to its resolution. As such, it remains a fundamental factor shaping Switzerland's engagement. In this context, Switzerland supports inclusive dialogue and promotes human rights and respect for international law. The humanitarian aid it provides, founded on fundamental principles, aims to protect people's lives and health. Switzerland also provides support for overall development that helps to create opportunities and decent and sustainable livelihoods. 

Switzerland is convinced that economic opportunities for young people will contribute to regional stability. It is therefore deploying its expertise to support the potential for innovation in the occupied Palestinian territory by increasing cooperation with the private sector. Switzerland is committed to women's rights and greater gender equality.

Its cooperation programme is aligned with the Swiss International Cooperation Strategy 2021-24 (IC) and the Middle East and North Africa Strategy 2021-24. 

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding

Switzerland is helping to improve the conditions for the resumption of a genuine dialogue between all parties with a view to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It facilitates spaces for dialogue between communities, political and religious figures and decision-makers in order to promote trust and fair and equitable models of coexistence.

It supports the feasibility of a two-state solution and promotes the conditions that allow for greater Palestinian reconciliation and national unity.

Peace and human rights

Rule of law, protection and gender equality

In a context of discrimination and the expansion of illegal settlements, Switzerland helps protect and promote decent conditions and security in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. Switzerland continues to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties. It also works for the rights of Palestinians to enjoy health and to access water and natural resources. Switzerland supports gender equality, particularly through local actors who combat gender-based violence.

Activities supported include advocacy, provision of legal aid and psychosocial support. Switzerland supports humanitarian actors and human rights defenders and helps protect their space for action and expression.

Fragility, conflict and human rights

Gender equality

International humanitarian law

Inclusive economic development, youth employment and innovation

In order to strengthen social cohesion and stability, Switzerland contributes to maintaining jobs and creating new opportunities, especially for unemployed youth and women. It aims to improve the conditions for innovative and inclusive economic development. Sectors targeted include agriculture and agri-food, which employ 25% of the workforce. New and existing partnerships, including with the private sector, support the development of entrepreneurship and other skills that young students and graduates need. Among its activities, Switzerland supports initiatives and start-ups with a high potential to create jobs and impact society. Partnerships are sought with Swiss actors, in particular universities, institutional innovation incubators and the private sector, as well as with the relevant regional actors.

Private Sector Development and financial services

Local governance and providing essential services

Switzerland seeks to strengthen social inclusion at local level and to improve the provision of high-quality essential services to everyone. Activities include building the capacity of municipalities and promoting citizens' participation in decision-making, with a particular focus on women's and young people's representation in local government. Humanitarian actors and the United Nations provide certain services (education, health, water) and their work complements Switzerland's activities. A close link between development and humanitarian aid is ensured. UNRWA remains a vital multilateral organisation, providing education and medical care to refugees and social protection for the most vulnerable populations in Gaza and the West Bank. 

In collaboration with other donors such as the World Bank, the SDC gives a voice to vulnerable and marginalised communities to ensure that these programmes leave no one behind. Switzerland participates in humanitarian donor coordination mechanisms to ensure effective and coherent support. 

Good governance

Rapide Response and Emergency Relief

Basic education and vocational skills development

Approach and Swiss partners

The FDFA uses a complementary and flexible combination of partnerships with international organisations (the UN, IFIs, the ICRC, the FAO), international, local and Swiss NGOs, national authorities and other local public and private partners (e.g. universities, technology parks and professional associations). In the oPt, joint partnerships with like-minded countries are essential to mitigate risks, improve coordination and increase aid effectiveness. Support for each partner is carefully monitored: selection is based on their alignment with Swiss foreign policy values, Switzerland's thematic priorities and the given partner's professionalism, effectiveness and impact.

Current project

Object 13 – 17 of 17

Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development- GVCD (Phase 1)

01.10.2017 - 31.12.2021

In the first phase of this project, SDC will support selected Municipalities in the Gaza Strip to improve the delivery of services through the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF): small-scale infrastructure projects targeting vulnerable communities and capacity development activities to enhance the participation of these communities in local decision-making processes will be implemented. This project is aligned with Palestine National Policy Agenda (2017-2022), and Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the oPt (2015-2018).


Support to Municipal Development Project (MDP-3)

Support to municipal development project (MDP-3), occupied Palestinian territory

01.09.2017 - 31.12.2021

Since 2009, the Municipal Development Project (MDP) has been the main vehicle for policy reform in the Local Governance sector in the oPt. It has channelled funding to Municipalities to support infrastructure projects and capacity-building activities in a transparent and equitable manner, despite huge challenges linked to 50 years of Israeli Occupation and to 10 years of intra-Palestinian divide. MDP-3 (2017-2021) is supported by 7 donors and the Palestinian Authority: SDC’s contribution is in line with Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the oPt (2015-2018).

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Governance
Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.09.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 5'300'000



Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organisations

Reform and development of markets, value chains and producers’ organisations, occupied Palestinian territory

01.03.2017 - 31.12.2022

Private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness in the Palestinian occupied territory (oPT) can play a key role in building a resilient economy towards economic growth and in safeguarding rights and entitlements to natural resources and markets. This program aims at improving income and productivity in the agriculture sector, through improved access to markets, increased share of local market, enhanced competitiveness and profitability of Palestinian agribusinesses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations

01.03.2017 - 31.12.2022


CHF 3'000'000



Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Resource Center (IHLRC) “Closing the Compliance Gap”

01.01.2017 - 30.11.2021

The Swiss contribution supports Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Resource Centre (IHLRC) to respond to the demand for accurate and principled legal analysis on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law in the oPt, and to make it accessible to States and relevant organizations to ensure that their policies and international aid are not in contradiction with international law. This intervention is in line with the Swiss Foreign Policy in the Region and SDC Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018 that aims to promote respect for International Law, to ensure protection by all duty-bearers of the rights of the Palestinian population.


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

01.11.2016 - 31.12.2021

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.

Object 13 – 17 of 17