Switzerland has supported Palestine refugees since 1950, through contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). During the 1948 Arab–Israeli war, the refugees fled their homes in Palestine for camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. With the conflict unresolved, many of them and their descendants remain there.
In 1994, following the Oslo Agreement and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), SDC began a development program to support institution building that would underwrite the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. After the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2001, Switzerland also increased its provision of humanitarian aid.
In accordance with Switzerland’s regional foreign policy, SDC focuses its intervention into three strategic domains:
Domain 1: Rule of law and protectionThe objective of this domain is to: "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."
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."
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."
As part of Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) works and coordinates with other organs of the Department, to better realise Swiss Foreign Policy Strategy in the region.