Near East

In the Near 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 Near 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 1 – 12 of 16

Planned project

Support to Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2027

By supporting the provision of quality mental health through Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Switzerland contributes to strengthening the resilience of vulnerable people in the Gaza Strip, where distress, psychological and psychiatric problems continue to increase after more than a decade of closure, traumatic conflicts and the degradation of socio-economic conditions. Addressing distress and traumas contributes to the prevention of radicalisation.


Upgrading Karm Abu Salem Crossing - Gaza

01.10.2020 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland will support improving the export/import conditions of goods to and from the Gaza Strip.

The project, implemented by UNOPS, will upgrade the poor infrastructure at the Palestinian side of

the only functioning commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel. The existing infrastructure con-

ditions are causing around 10% of damages to the transiting commodities thus incurring substantial

economic losses that are affecting the living conditions of two million people in the Gaza Strip


DEAR Foundation contribution Madaa

15.07.2019 - 31.12.2021

Switzerland, through Dear Foundation active in the oPt, will contribute to the provision of educational, cultural and psychosocial services for children, women and youth in the most sensitive neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. A particular focus is given on reducing vulnerability and creating opportunities for jobs and income generation. Enhancing protection framework and strengthening the resilience of Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem are in line with Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the oPt (2015-2019).


Support to Village Councils in the West Bank

01.07.2019 - 30.04.2022

Switzerland will support Village Councils in the West Bank to improve the delivery of basic services in rural areas with a focus on those situated in Area C. Switzerland’s support aims at empowering selected local government units to deliver needed public services, while supporting an enhanced engagement of women, youth and people with disabilities, to improve local accountability processes. This intervention will be realized through dedicated funding to a local governance programme implemented by GIZ.


Support to Gaza Community Mental health Programme

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2021

By supporting the provision of quality mental health services through Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Switzerland contributes to strengthening the resilience of vulnerable people in the Gaza Strip, where distress, psychological and psychiatric problems continue to increase after more than a decade of Israeli closure and intra-Palestinian divide, repeated traumatic conflicts and the degradation of socioeconomic conditions. Addressing distress and traumas also contributes to the prevention of radicalization.


Support to Safe Spaces for Women, Youth and Children in Gaza Strip

Safe Spaces Project, Khan Younis, Gaza Strip

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

In 2019-2020, Switzerland will support the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) and the Culture and Arts Association (NAWA) in the Gaza Strip to provide quality educational and cultural services in safe learning environments for children, youth and women, including persons with disabilities. This contribution aims to enhance the inclusion of marginalized groups in local development and in community-led initiatives, and to prevent wider spreading of violent extremism and radicalisation.


SDC Education Fund

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

As part of its increased commitment for Education and of the implementation of SDC’s Education Strategy, the SDC launches an Education Fund in order to incentivize innovation and the application of new approaches in basic education/vocational skills development and through educational activities across sectors. Innovation can have a catalytic effect on the effectiveness of programmes in and through education. Education is a core enabler for sustainable development and is an important lever in Switzerland’s commitment to promote human and economic development, peace and stability. 


Agriculture Census 2020

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland will support the realization of the Agriculture Census in 2020 through contributing to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). Updated and accurate data on agriculture holdings is an enabling tool for public and private investment as well as to plan and monitor relevant developments in the agriculture sector, in accordance with the National Policy Agenda (2017-2022). This project will offer opportunities to engage Swiss expertise in the domain of statistics and agriculture.


Program contribution to OHCHR for promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2029

Switzerland supports the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt and to influence the behaviour of the relevant duty bearers. OHCHR has an exceptional role both in the humanitarian and development spheres in the oPt’s complex context of multiple duty bearers and harsh political and humanitarian realities.


Non-earmarked contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Siwtzerland supports the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to carry out its mandate to provide capacity building for the Palestinian Authority and civil society as well as to monitor and report on human rights situation and policy development. This program is in line with Switzerland’s strong commitment in support to OHCHR and contributes to reinforce Switzerland’s policy dialogue with OHCHR Geneva office and to pursue Swiss human rights program in the oPt.


Improved Access to Markets for Female and Male Fresh Fruits and Vegetable (FFV) Small Scale Producers

Improved access to markets for fresh fruits and vegetable (FFV) small scale producers (men and women), occupied Palestinian territory

01.12.2017 - 30.06.2022

With focus on private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness, this program pursues systemic change in the agriculture sector and supports business modalities that favor small scale producers in the occupied Palestinian territory. The overall goal 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.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural services & market
Agricultural policy

01.12.2017 - 30.06.2022


CHF  5’200’000



Planned project

Support to the HR/IHL Sector

15.10.2017 - 28.02.2026

By supporting Palestinian and Israeli civil society organizations working on human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Switzerland contributes to protect the democratic space in the oPt and to the promotion of  respect for international Law by all duty bearers, conditions essential for any sustainable development and peace to take place.

Object 1 – 12 of 16