Middle East: the FDFA withdraws financial support for the Geneva Initiative

Press release, 25.01.2022

Switzerland has been supporting the Geneva Initiative (GI) since it was launched in 2003. Due to the conclusions of an external evaluation and following the regular review of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ programmatic engagements, the FDFA has now decided to gradually withdraw its funding for the GI, which it supports through two local NGOs. Within the framework of its Cooperation Programme 2021–24, Switzerland remains fully committed to promoting peace in the Middle East and supports the vision formulated by the UN Security Council of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and within secure and recognised borders. This position, which was reaffirmed by the Federal Council in October 2020, is laid down in the MENA Strategy 2021–24.

Through the Geneva Initiative, the Swiss Confederation has supported the efforts of Israeli and Palestinian civil societies that led to the Geneva Accord and its annexes in 2003. The Accord was a significant reference document and showed that concrete options for a two-state solution are possible. Since 2003, Switzerland has contributed some CHF 18 million to the GI.

Based on the recommendations from an initial external evaluation in 2009, the FDFA has gradually decreased its financial support for the GI over the years, from CHF 1 million in 2009 to CHF 180,000 in 2021.

Furthermore, the FDFA regularly reviews its engagements with its implementation partners. In so doing, it ensures that taxpayers' money is used in a targeted way and to the best effect. Within this context, and following the Federal Council's opinion on the Imark motion (18.3867), the FDFA commissioned another external evaluation of the GI in 2020.

The conclusions of the evaluation are clear: while the GI was important and effective in the beginning and the objective of the initiative is in line with Switzerland's position in favour of a two-state solution, its effectiveness and impact diminished. The evaluation also notes the GI's limited relevance in the current political context and finds that a number of stakeholders feel its rationale is disconnected from the current reality. The GI also lacks political support both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory. Based on these conclusions and in accordance with the principles for collaboration with NGOs (which include reducing their number) set out in the MENA Strategy, the FDFA has decided to end its financial support for the GI. The financial support will be phased out over a period of two years, until the end of 2023, in order to allow the GI to prepare itself accordingly.

Two-state solution

Switzerland already engages in new, innovative dialogue and peacebuilding initiatives that promise to have more impact. It will allocate the fundings of GI to other such initiatives beginning in late 2023. Peace promotion activities are implemented alongside humanitarian and development activities within the framework of the Cooperation Programme for the Near East 2021–24.

Despite the many obstacles, Switzerland firmly believes that only a two-state solution – negotiated by both parties, in accordance with international law and the internationally agreed parameters, including the UN Security Council resolutions – can bring about a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


Further information:

MENA Strategy 2021-2024
Swiss Cooperation Programme for the Near East 2021–24


Final Report: External Evaluation of the Geneva Initiative 2010-2020(pdf, 2077kb)


Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Publisher:

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs