A woman carrying mattresses in the rubbles of a house in Gaza. Here Sida supports a project by UNDP, where homeless Palestinian families receive temporary housing through cash assistance.
Our work in Palestine
Palestine has become increasingly dependent on development assistance in recent years. The blockade of Gaza and the isolation of West Bank areas are hampering the development of agriculture and trade, as well as efforts to provide access to water, and even making it difficult to provide development assistance.
The objective of Sweden's development cooperation in Palestine is for Palestine to become a stable democratic state with freedom of religion, respect for human rights and gender equality. Our focus areas are democracy and human rights, environment and climate, and private sector development. One precondition for the achievement of these goals is progress in the peace process and for Israel to ease its policy of occupation
New approach following the Gaza wars
The wars in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014 have created new emergency needs among the population. More than 2 200 people lost their lives during the war of 2014. To meet the enormous needs Sida has increased its humanitarian aid to Gaza. One example is cash support through UNICEF to families whose homes were destroyed.
Sida has also supported the clearing of debris. The project creates work opportunities and the material can be sold and reused for home improvement. Another important part of the same effort is the identification and clearance of unexploded ordnance. Additional support has been given to organisations in Gaza for the documentation of suspected abuses of civilians.
We also work more directly with peace building efforts. For example, we support the Palestinian negotiation team to create a better balance between the parties during negotiations.
Democracy, gender equality and human rights
In the field of democracy and human rights we have been supporting civil society organisations for many years. Together with Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark we have created a bureau for human rights, which aims to ensure that resources are being used in the best way. For example, gender equality should always be a cornerstone and women's rights and interests prioritized.
At the core of our cooperation with Palestine is the support for sustainable state-building, and a prerequisite for this to happen is a well-functioning Palestinian Authority. This is why we also work directly with the public courts. Among other things, we support a UNDP programme which aims to construct a unified legal system since the current laws stem from a plethora of old systems. The programme will also improve the legal process and the capacity of prosecutors, courts and defence lawyers. Up to 80 per cent of Palestinians in Palestinian prisons are waiting for trial. Improved rule of law may also in the long term help decrease men's violence against women and children.
Sweden, through Sida, provides long-term support to the Palestinian state-building in the Area C of the West Bank. The area, which constitutes 62 percent of the West Bank, is under Israeli control, making it very difficult for the Palestinian Authority to operate there. The programme is implemented in cooperation with UNDP and the Palestinian Authority, and aims to improve the living conditions of Palestinians and their opportunities to earn a living, to be able to stay in the area.
Environment and Climate
Swedish support to the Ministry of the Environment has resulted in an action plan for an environmental strategy. Sweden's long-standing support to the Palestinian Water Authority has focused on water and wastewater treatment. It has resulted in new and improved facilities to handle rain and sewage, which can reduce the risk of flooding in vulnerable areas, especially in northern Gaza, and thus contribute to better health.
Sweden is increasing its involvement in the environmental field, for example by supporting the strengthening of the Palestinian ability to cope with disasters due to climate change.
Private Sector Development
For Palestine to eventually reduce its dependence on aid and have a stable economic foundation, Swedish development cooperation also focuses on private sector development. For instance, in collaboration with UNDP, we support the provision of grants and micro credits to women's small business in East Jerusalem, Area C and Gaza so that they can establish businesses and thereby create much-needed jobs. We also support guarantees to stimulate the economy and the labour market by providing credits to the private sector and for housing construction. Sida also works with dialogue efforts to lift restrictions on local as well as international trade, in order to break the isolation of the business sector.