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Switzerland supports Palestinian request for change of UN status

Bern, 28.11.2012 - Switzerland will vote in favour of the Palestinian request for an enhancement of its status at the United Nations in the vote set to be held at the UN General Assembly. According to the Federal Council, this change of status – from an entity with observer status to that of an observer state – should contribute to a revitalisation of the principle of a two-state solution in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The decision was taken by the Federal Council at its meeting on 21 November 2012. It considers the draft resolution for granting Palestine the status of non-member observer state at the United Nations, which is to be submitted for a vote to the General Assembly, to be both constructive and pragmatic. The decision to support the resolution is in accordance with Switzerland's policy to seek a negotiated, just, and durable peace between Israel and an independent and viable Palestinian state within secure and internationally recognised borders.

The Federal Council decision in favour of the resolution is based primarily on the following considerations: the consequences of a positive vote at the General Assembly for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the impact of Switzerland's decision on its commitment to the region.

As concerns the consequences of a positive vote, the Federal Council believes that a change in Palestine's status will make it possible to revitalise the concept of a two-state solution by placing Israel and Palestine on an equal footing in future peace negotiations. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has on numerous occasions, including his recent official visit to Bern this past November 15, reiterated his commitment to relaunch the peace process immediately following the UN vote.

Moreover, the status of observer state brings with it not only rights but also obligations, including that of refraining from the threat or use of force, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. It will also open the way for Palestine to become a party to numerous international conventions, above all in the domains of the protection of human rights and the fight against terrorism.

As concerns the impact of the Federal Council decision on Switzerland's policies in the region, it noted that Switzerland is respected in the region and has a special profile. Switzerland is perceived by both Israelis and Palestinians as an independent actor, one that pursues a policy of dialogue with all parties. Switzerland's support for the enhancement of the status of Palestine within the United Nations is consistent with its foreign policy in the region.

The Federal Council decision concerning Palestine's request for an enhancement of its status at the UN is to be distinguished from that regarding the Palestinian application for UNESCO membership.  At that time, the Federal Council decided to abstain, noting that the debate on Palestine's status should not be carried out within UNESCO, a UN organisation with a purely technical mission, but within the main political bodies of the United Nations.

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The Federal Council
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
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