Switzerland reaffirms its pledge to the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Bern, 12.10.2014 - At the Cairo Conference for Palestine on rebuilding the Gaza Strip the Federal Delegate for Humanitarian Aid, Manuel Bessler, today confirmed Switzerland's pledge to donate an average of 30 million francs per annum to the Occupied Palestinian Territory between 2014 and 2017. He also spoke of Switzerland's role as a facilitator in the Palestinian reunification process.

Mr Bessler travelled to Gaza on 30 September to ascertain the humanitarian situation on the ground there after 51 days of conflict. At the Cairo conference Mr Bessler voiced concerns about the repeated conflicts in the region and offered his condolences to the families of its many victims. Switzerland is calling on all the parties involved to break this vicious circle of violence so that the Palestinian and Israeli populations can live in security and dignity.

According to Switzerland, the resumption of peace talks based on clear parameters is a prerequisite for any two-state solution. The reconstruction of Gaza and support for Palestinians living in the occupied territories or in exile must take place within a sustainable policy framework. To this end, Switzerland stressed how essential it is to consolidate the ceasefire agreement concluded between the parties and insisted that the blockade of Gaza must be lifted. Switzerland also reiterated that the parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law in all circumstances.

Between 2014 and 2017, Switzerland plans to allocate an average of 30 million francs per annum to humanitarian aid and development programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as to peacebuilding projects. Continuing its current programme, the main areas of intervention will be local governance, promotion of the rule of law, economic development and support for humanitarian organisations like UNRWA, the ICRC or the World Food Programme. In 2014, Switzerland also allocated an additional sum of more than 4 million francs to meet humanitarian needs caused by the conflict in Gaza.

Switzerland also welcomed the conclusion on 25 September of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Switzerland is monitoring the process of Palestinian reunification as a facilitator based on a mandate from the Palestinian National Consensus Government (PNCG) and in consultation with all the parties concerned. The short-term aim of this facilitation is to defuse the crisis concerning civil-sector salaries in Gaza, but its medium and long-term objective is to work towards the consolidation and reform of the public sector in Gaza and throughout the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory.

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