Notes and Working Papers

Memorandum for the Swiss Federal Government and Parliament
13/02/2015

Memorandum for the Swiss Federal Government and Parliament
following the completion of an arms deal with the Israeli Occupation Authority

The Swiss Confederation has always maintained a nonalignment strategy that made it stand out among all the states, earning the respect and trust of the various parties. Many international organizations consider the Swiss Confederation one of the symbols of human rights values, not to add that Switzerland is the country that sponsored the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates the protection of civilian persons in time of war.

The Swiss Confederation has intended on buying Israeli drones [unmanned planes] through a deal for the Swiss army, valued at more than USD 280 million dollars. The needed financial credit for this deal was approved in the current annual budget, for the purpose of arming the Swiss army with these planes that are made in Israel. The deal is currently in progress, awaiting only the approval of the Swiss federal parliament. If such a deal was approved, the Israeli unmanned planes [Hermes 900] are to constitute the backbone of the Swiss aerial fleet of unmanned planes.

For years, the international community has witnessed the grave Israeli violations and atrocities committed against Palestinian civilians, in a clear violation to the international humanitarian and human rights law, and more specifically to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war. The past ten years have been painfully bloody for the residents of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, where thousands of civilians were killed and houses and civilian structures were demolished (including hospitals and schools). Such violations have been documented by many international humanitarian and legal organizations, very accurately; not to mention the documentations done by the UN special investigation committees and envoys. Actually, the Israeli Occupation Authority is arguably the party that has most violated human rights especially civilians.

The international community is requested by all legal, moral and humanitarian drives to stop the crimes committed by the Israeli Occupation against the Palestinian civilians, and to impose penal and civil punishment codes against such crimes. Any contribution to the Israeli Occupation economy is a contribution to the violations against innocent civilians leading to more victims and more violations of the international humanitarian law.

The Swiss Confederation, more specifically is entitled to additional responsibilities in this regard, being the symbol and sponsor of the Geneva conventions, and the party monitoring the commitment levels of the various states party in the convention, including the fourth convention. It is clear that high level dealing parties are directly contributing to the Israeli Occupation's violations against the International humanitarian law, through providing Israel with military, economic and diplomatic support; Other parties are also supporting the economy of the Israeli Occupation through arm/defence deals valued at hundreds of million dollars USD.

This deal constitutes an act that is not aligned with Switzerland's moral and symbolic long commitment to human rights, and embodies a wrong message to the families of victims who were killed by the Israeli drones and unmanned planes, the same plane category subject of the deal.

We hereby call upon the Government and Parliament of the Swiss Confederation to revise this deal, and call upon the Swiss Parliament to vote against the completion/approval of the deal, because of what it embodies of contribution to the violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Palestinian Organization for Human Rights (Witness)
Beirut 13/2/2015