In May 2018, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) announced CHF 2 million in “Support to Israeli and Palestinian HR/IHL CSOs” “as part of its engagement to contribute to a just and lasting peace and to the establishment of an independent, viable and democratic State of Palestine.” Per a March 2017 bill passed by the Swiss legislature, grants were supposed to be prohibited for “development cooperation projects carried out by NGOs involved in racist, antisemitic or hate incitement actions.”
However, as reported by the Israeli daily Israel Hayom on April 24, 2019, the contracts related to these grants detail activities previously carried out or planned by the NGOs that significantly differ from the claimed human rights and humanitarian ideals. These include campaigning for the release of convicted murderers, international and legal attacks against Israel, and promoting incitement that makes the stated objective of “lasting peace” less attainable.
Moreover, several of the grantees have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. These include the Palestinian NGOs Addameer, Al-Dameer, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).
Examples of activities approved and funded by the Swiss government include (see table at bottom for all such initiatives):
International Legal Campaigns Singling out Israel
- NGOs prepared allegations to be used in cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Grantees testified before UN bodies, accusing Israel of war crimes and ignoring Palestinian violations.
- Swiss-funded groups lobbied for other forms of international pressure against Israel.
Aid to Prisoners in Israel, Including Convicted Murders
- At least two NGOs participated in “weekly protests to demand the release of prisoners.”
- Some of these actors provided “legal services to Palestinians in Israel jail.”
- Certain NGOs derogatively refer to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) as the “IOF” (Israel occupation force).
In contrast to the international advocacy work and legal activities against Israel, none of the NGOs funded by the Swiss government engage in international legal and advocacy campaigns regarding violations by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, or other Palestinian factions.
In advance of future FDFA support to the HR/IHL sector, NGO Monitor recommends that the Swiss government:
- Undertake an independent review of the activities and rhetoric of NGO grantees, their staff, and board members.
- Establish and enforce clear funding criteria to ensure that recipients promote peace and mutual cooperation, and do not partake in activities that undermine these objectives.
|NGO||Amount in CHF |
( % of NGO Budget)
|Assistance to Palestinians involved in terror attacks on Israelis||Legal Support to Palestinian prisoners in Israel||Legal activities in Israel||Protests and campaigns for release of prisoners|
|International lobbying targeting only Israel||Legal activities at UN / ICC
|Al- Dameer||180,000 (19%)||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)||180,000 (13%)||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)||345,000 (21%)||X||X||X||X||X|
|Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I)||160,000 (21%)||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)||350,000 |