Relations between Switzerland and the Palestinian Authority are affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Switzerland seeks to maintain good relations with both sides. Peacebuilding, development cooperation, humanitarian aid and the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law form the cornerstones of Swiss foreign policy in the Middle East.
Key aspects of relations
Although Switzerland does not recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally, it has maintained relations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) since the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993. In 2015, a cooperation framework was set up at bilateral level which outlines some key aspects of cooperation.
Political consultations have been held annually since 2013. Ministerial-level visits have also been stepped up in recent years. In the occupied Palestinian territory, the Swiss Representative Office is situated in Ramallah and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation maintains a cooperation office in East Jerusalem.
Economic relations between Switzerland and the occupied Palestinian territory are modest in scope. A Free Trade Agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has been in place since 1999.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from the occupied Palestinian territory may apply to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland is committed to a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict and to ensuring that all parties involved comply with international humanitarian law. It pursues the goal of a negotiated, just, sustainable peace between Israel and an independent and viable Palestinian state within secure, internationally recognised borders. Switzerland believes that any lasting solution to the Middle East conflict must reflect the legitimate interests of both Israelis and Palestinians and comply with international law.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland provides assistance to Palestinians through a range of humanitarian organisations and development cooperation initiatives, including the promotion of human rights and good governance.
Swiss citizens in the occupied Palestinian territory
At the end of 2018, there were 120 Swiss citizens living in the occupied Palestinian territory.
History of bilateral relations
Before the state of Israel was established, Switzerland was represented in Palestine by a consulate in Jerusalem and a consular agency in Tel Aviv. Since 1948, it has provided assistance, in particular, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). A development programme was established in 1993 to complement Switzerland's humanitarian aid efforts. Switzerland set up a cooperation office in East Jerusalem in 1994 on the back of the Oslo Peace Process. It later opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Ramallah in 2001.