Paris Conference: Switzerland committed to renewed prospects for a political solution in the Middle East

Press release, 15.01.2017

On Sunday, 15 January 2017 at the Paris Ministerial Conference for Peace in the Middle East, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter called on the Israelis and Palestinians to take steps to build confidence and advance the two-state solution. For the Israelis “this means not pursuing a policy of settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem,” while the Palestinian leaders “could re-open the prospect of peace by taking a firm stand against all incitements to violence,” said the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

Mr Burkhalter also called on the Israelis to play the economic card more strongly and to allow a greater flow of people and goods between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.  He maintained that “it is by fighting unemployment, which has reached 50% in Gaza, that we can rebuild prospects”. He also called on the Palestinians to strengthen democratic processes and confidence in their institutions: “Palestinians must not wait longer to hold both local and general elections.”

Mr Burkhalter also emphasised that new prospects would be created through inter-Palestinian reconciliation and the involvement of civil society, adding that “Switzerland welcomes the establishment of a civil society forum (…) within which various NGOs, in particular the Geneva Initiative, will be able to take concrete steps towards reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian society.” Mr Burkhalter also promotes regional cooperation in the Middle East.

Switzerland is working in the region to promote a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a negotiated two-state solution. It will not recognise changes to the 1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless it is the result of a negotiated agreement between the two parties. Lastly, Switzerland urges the parties to respect international humanitarian law.

Further information:

Statement by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter on the occasion of the Paris Ministerial Conference on Peace in the Middle East – Check against delivery

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs