Switzerland’s National Council – the country’s lower chamber of the legislature – passed a bill on Wednesday to stop government funding of organisations that promote boycotts of Israel and spread antisemitism and racism.
The measure will be submitted in May to the Council of States, the upper chamber of the legislature, which will decide whether it becomes law.
Olga Deutsch, director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor’s Europe Desk, told The Jerusalem Post: “Today’s positive developments in Switzerland mark a milestone in seriously countering BDS campaigns, antisemitism and hatred, by equating them in the motion. The motion sets an important precedent. NGO Monitor was instrumental in providing details to Swiss decision-makers regarding their government’s funding of organisations that oppose official Swiss foreign policy, such as NGOs that propagate anti-normalisation, BDS, and one-state frameworks.”
She added, “This is a perfect opportunity for Israeli and European officials to capitalise on the Swiss example and work together on guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that contribute to positive change in addressing this serious issue.”
The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.
The Swiss government provided funds in December to the US- and EU-designated terrorist organisation Hamas for a conference in Geneva. Switzerland’s government funnelled nearly $60 million to diverse projects in the Middle East, many of which are shrouded in secrecy.
Swiss government money flowed to the Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, which advocates the boycott of the Jewish state.
Switzerland – in contrast to the US, Canada and the EU – does not recognise Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
Switzerland also funds the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which routinely calls for the arrest of Israeli politicians and compares Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa, and Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based legal centre that engages in lawfare against the Jewish state.
According to NGO Monitor: “The Swiss government, directly through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (managed by the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden), provides core-funding to a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada and Israel.”
BDS Switzerland slammed the anti-boycott motion because “its goal is to ban financial support for human rights organisations in the context of Israel/Palestine.”
The group said the motion is an attack on the Palestinian population, freedom of speech and organisations that work for human rights.