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Former Swiss President: Funding Freeze for Middle East NGOs ‘more Than Wrong’

Ruth Dreifuss has criticised Switzerland’s funding freeze for Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, saying it weakens the peace movement on both sides.

NGOs promote peace and cooperation in civil society, Dreifuss said in an interview with the newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende published on Saturday.

“Where else in the world other than in the Middle East have so many people been campaigning for peace and human rights in such a tense situation for so long and with concrete activities?” she asked. She described the decision of the Swiss foreign ministry as “more than wrong”.

The ministry discontinued its support for six Palestinian and five Israeli NGOs at the end of October. This was due to the new situation since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the resumption of hostilities, it said.

Organisations as beacons of hope

The commitment of the organisations in the Middle East gives her hope for a solution, said Dreifuss, who held the rotating Swiss presidency in 1999. There must be a solution. “Be it with two states or with one state in which all people can live together in mutual respect for their diversity,” said the former interior minister. The Israeli settlements had literally blocked a two-state solution in the meantime. The form of a unified state still had to be found.

Dreifuss was the first member of the Swiss Federal Council of Jewish origin. Politicians should not be reduced to their Jewish background, especially in the current situation, she said: “The war concerns us all.”

Source: Swiss Info



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