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 17

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

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland promotes social cohesion and civic peace through creating safe spaces for women, youth, and persons with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. By fostering local capacities and promoting community-led initiatives Safe Spaces strengthens the resilience of vulnerable groups. This second phase puts a stronger accent on skills and economic empowerment for youth in line with the Cooperation Programme 2021-24. By advocating for inclusive societies it contributes to mitigate the spread of extremism and radicalization.


OHCHR - Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the oPt

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

This support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the oPt aims to contribute to promoting and protecting human rights in the oPt and enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with the State of Israel. 


GVCD - Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Through the Gaza Vulnerable Communities Development Programme, Switzerland contributes to covering basic needs and fostering social cohesion in the Gaza Strip. The successful intervention model applied in the 1st Phase is extended and scaled up under this 2nd Phase. Small infrastructure projects addressing basic needs of vulnerable communities serve as an entry point for a local dialogue on development priorities, enabled through building the capacities of both duty bearers and right holders, including youth and women.


Long-term support to UNRWA’s reform

01.07.2021 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland contributes to enable UNRWA to pursue key reform areas of its Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2022, mainly by supporting (i) management initiatives and set of actions to ensure that governance, accountability, management and transparency meet international standards, and (ii) the systematic integration and attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular children, persons with disabilities and women survivors of violence.


Promotion and respect of human rights, gender equality and the international humanitarian law

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland aims at enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with Israel, via the respect and promotion of human rights, including gender equality, international humanitarian law and the rule of law by all duty bearers. To this end, SDC supports ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights and humanitarian law organizations active in the oPt, which provide legal aid and protection services to the population and advocate for the respect of the international law. 


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


Program Contribution to the Independent Commission for Human Rights

01.03.2020 - 31.12.2022

The ICHR is the Palestinian national Human Rights Institute and ombudsman, dedicated to supporting Palestinian citizens’ rights. It monitors independently the performance of the government and its compliance with its legal and human rights obligations. Using mediation and dialogue, it advises the authorities to improve respect of human rights and to support victims of violations. Support to the ICHR with institutional development as well as with program funding contributes to the democratic state building agenda of Switzerland.


Generating youth employment and economic empowerment opportunities through advancing the Palestinian innovation eco-system

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2025

Switzerland aims to support the development of a nascent Palestinian tech start-up community in order to generate jobs especially for young graduates and women, among whom unemployment is particularly high. This contribution to UNDP builds on a successful pilot in Gaza. It provides targeted support and mentoring to students in selected universities to incubate promising business ideas and strengthens the linkages between academia, private sector and business incubators. 


CASE - Culture, Art and Social Engagement

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

This project aims at promoting the role of people as agents of change in the occupied Palestinian territory. Culture and artistic creativity are used to enhance democratic debate, promote social inclusion and active participation of youth and women within marginalized communities and between the community and the local authorities. Local authorities will be influenced so that local development better reflects the needs of these groups.


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.


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. 

Object 1 – 12 of 17