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17 June 2007
Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs is very concerned about the situation in the Gaza Strip and expresses its sympathies to the families of the victims of the recent violence. It notes the appointment of an emergency government by President Mahmud Abbas, and supports his efforts to find a peaceful outcome to the crisis.
The FDFA hopes that a return to the national dialogue and the principles of the Mecca Agreement of February 2007 will be possible. It encourages President Abbas to pursue his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, which will take into account the interests of the Palestinian people.
The FDFA appeals to all sides to remain level-headed, to renounce violence, and to comply with international humanitarian law. It calls on all parties to resume the path of dialogue in order to restore security, calm and order in the Gaza Strip, in order to maintain the unity of the Palestinian Occupied Territory.
The FDFA is especially concerned about the humanitarian consequences on the civilian population of the recent hostilities. It demands that access for humanitarian workers to Gaza be ensured in order to facilitate the supply of food and medicines to the people. Also, the work of the relief agencies must not be hindered.
Through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland supports the humanitarian activities of the UN (WFP, UNRWA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The SDC coordinates its relief work closely with the ICRC. In addition, it supports several Palestinian foundations and NGOs active in education, psychiatric services, and human rights. It provides aid on the basis of careful evaluations of the programmes in question and of budget transparency. All of those partner-organizations have had to cease the bulk of their activites and close their headquarters as a result of the recent violence. The SDC office in Jerusalem is in daily contact with its partners.
To our knowledge, there are no Swiss nationals living or working in the Gaza Strip. Except for four Swiss members of the ICRC. The Swiss Liaison Office in Ramallah is in contact with Swiss citizens living or working in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Of the approximately 60 Swiss nationals there, just under half are working for the ICRC or an international organization. The situation is constantly assessed. Given the current situation, the FDFA advises Swiss citizens in the region not to travel to the Ocupied Palestinian Territory.
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs