President Parmelin visits Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory

Bern, 28.10.2021 - On Thursday, 28 October, President Guy Parmelin met with the respective presidents and government representatives of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The talks focused in particular on bilateral cooperation in economic and science matters, and on Switzerland's peace promotion efforts. Cooperation in innovation promotion was also discussed in Israel, while in the occupied Palestinian territory the creation of jobs for young people was a central topic.

At the meetings between Mr Parmelin and President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, both sides acknowledged the importance of Switzerland and Israel's bilateral relations, which have recently been expanded and deepened, particularly in the areas of business and science. Switzerland's strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA Strategy) envisages, among other things, a further strengthening of economic relations with Israel from now until 2024, and places an increased focus on innovation issues and on Switzerland's support for dialogue and peace.

President Parmelin emphasised that the normalisation agreement concluded in autumn 2020 between Israel and several Gulf states opens up new opportunities for the entire region and for cooperation with Switzerland. With regard to the Middle East conflict, Mr Parmelin reaffirmed Switzerland's commitment to dialogue and peace in the region. He welcomed the resumption of talks between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the summer and considers this an important first step. He called on both sides to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to address the root causes of the conflict.

In his meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, President Parmelin again underlined Switzerland's support for a dialogue aimed at achieving a two-state solution. To make this possible, he said, the divisions between the Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will need to be overcome. In terms of the MENA strategy, one of Switzerland's objectives is to strengthen the resilience of the population in the occupied Palestinian territory by reducing their dependence on humanitarian aid and by creating new jobs and opportunities for the future. On Thursday, both sides acknowledged the steps already taken towards strengthening bilateral economic ties. Ways in which Switzerland could help improve the labour market for young Palestinians were also discussed. Mr Parmelin then met with representatives of the innovation scene and of the Swiss-Palestinian Joint Business Council, which was founded in 2020.

The next stop on the President's trip to the Middle East will be the World Expo in Dubai, where he will attend Switzerland's National Day on Friday and visit the Swiss Pavilion. Talks are also scheduled with the government of the United Arab Emirates.

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