Official visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Bern, 15.11.2012 - On 15 November 2012, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, received the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Bernerhof in Bern for an official working visit. Their talks centred on bilateral issues and questions regarding the Middle East conflict, as well as on current multilateral issues. Following the working meeting with Federal Councillor Burkhalter, President Abbas paid a courtesy call on the President of the Swiss Confederation, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. Afterwards, President Abbas met with the Presidents of the two chambers of parliament.
At the meeting in the Bernerhof, the Head of the FDFA, Didier Burkhalter, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke about the relations between Switzerland and the Palestinian Authority and agreed on the implementation of a political dialogue to take place periodically in Bern and Ramallah.
Switzerland maintains good relations with the Palestinian Authority. For years, Switzerland's involvement in the occupied Palestinian territory has been pursuing the objective of a negotiated, just and sustainable peace between Israel and an independent and viable Palestinian state within secure and internationally recognised borders. For this reason, Switzerland is committed to promoting stability, security, democratisation, peace and economic development in the occupied Palestinian territory.
During the meeting, the Head of the FDFA expressed his deep concern at the escalation of violence throughout the region. It is crucial that all measures of precaution be taken so as to spare the civilian population from the effects of the hostilities being conducted in one of the most densely populated zones in the world. He emphasized that Switzerland calls upon all of the parties to exercise a maximum of restraint, and strongly condemns the violations of international law perpetrated by all of the parties.
Also discussed was President Abbas' announcement in the UN General Assembly that he would soon submit an official application for Palestine to be raised to the status of a UN observer State. Federal Councillor Burkhalter explained that Switzerland's position on this would be based on the content of the final text of the resolution, in particular its conformity with international law.
During the courtesy visit paid by President Abbas to Swiss President Widmer-Schlumpf, talks also focused on the relations between Switzerland and the Palestinian Authority. The Swiss President also emphasised that the two-state solution offers a peaceful and stable solution for the future of Israel and the Palestinians. Following the meeting with President Widmer-Schlumpf, President Abbas paid a courtesy visit to the Presidents of the National Council and the Council of States.
Generally speaking, on the basis of its tradition of offering its good offices and promoting international law, Switzerland has been committed for several years to advancing peace and stability in the Near East, as well as respect for international humanitarian law through dialogue with all parties. The repeated violations of international humanitarian law by the different parties have made finding a solution to the conflict increasingly difficult. Switzerland regularly appeals to all parties to respect their legal obligations and to enter into serious negotiations with the aim of resolving the conflict and improving the humanitarian situation.
The last visit of President Abbas to Switzerland took place in 2007 within the framework of the Geneva exhibition "Gaza à la croisée des civilisations".
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Last modification 05.01.2016