Article - Getting the Facts Right: Clarifying Al-Shabaka/Swiss Partnership

It is with great disappointment that we must clarify the facts pertaining to Al-Shabaka’s partnership with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) due to damaging misinformation circulated by the FDFA and its representatives.

The FDFA has publicly indicated that its partnership with Al-Shabaka was terminated as a result of an investigation, where Al-Shabaka was found to be in violation of the FDFA’s code of conduct policy. This allegation is categorically false.  

In mid-October, we were informed by the FDFA that our years-long partnership would not be renewed in 2024. We were told that this decision was made prior to October, 2023, and was due to a shift in portfolio focus. 

Several days later, we were informed that Al-Shabaka was among 11 Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations being investigated by the FDFA for potential breach of its code of conduct policy due to our recent public communications.

In late November, we were informed that we were not found to be in violation of our contract and that our agreement would remain intact. Our partnership with the FDFA continued until the conclusion of our agreement, in February 2024. 

Despite this, the FDFA has put out harmful and misleading information pertaining to its partnership with Al-Shabaka:

  • On November 22, 2023, the FDFA released an official statement under the title “Federal Council decides to bring in legislation to ban Hamas,” indicating that Al-Shabaka was among three Palestinian NGOs to have their agreements terminated as a result of the investigation (the FDFA has since removed the attachment that identifies Al-Shabaka, but an archived version may be found here).
  • On November 22, 2023, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis reiterated the false statement in an accompanying press conference.
  • In an article published on Swiss news site RTS on December 1st, 2023, Chief of Communications for the FDFA Nicolas Bideau stated that the agreements with three Palestinian NGOs—including Al-Shabaka—had been terminated due to statements that amounted to apologies for violence. 

These false allegations are remarkably dangerous, and have the potential to both harm our institutional reputation and put individual staff members at risk. 

In private correspondence, FDFA representatives have reiterated that the above statements do not accurately reflect the basis of decision-making vis-a-vis Al-Shabaka. We have requested both in writing as well as on a call that this information be publicly corrected, to no avail. To date, we have yet to receive a clear reason for why this damaging misinformation was released to begin with. 

Importantly, our call for public clarification by the FDFA should in no way be misconstrued as legitimizing their investigation, which was abhorrent and unjustified. As the genocide in Gaza continues and Israeli settler colonization accelerates across the West Bank, the FDFA has indeed terminated agreements with two other Palestinian organizations—both of whom carry out vital work across Palestine. We vehemently condemn the FDFA’s decision and stand in solidarity with these organizations and with the people behind them. 

Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network

Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization whose mission is to convene a multidisciplinary, global network of Palestinian analysts to produce critical policy analysis and collectively imagine a new policymaking paradigm for Palestine and Palestinians worldwide.

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