Joint statement from Sweden's civil society organizations with operations in Palestine

Photo: Marcus Lundstedt

The recent gruesome acts of violence committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians in the past few days are horrific acts of terrorism. Just like the Swedish government, we condemn this dreadful violence. We also regret that the Palestinian Authority has failed to condemn these acts of violence. At the same time, we emphasize that the decision by the Swedish government to freeze development aid to Palestine is counterproductive in achieving peace in the region.

Sweden has recognized Palestine as a state and actively works with democratic forces in both Palestine and Israel to achieve a peaceful two-state solution. All Swedish aid efforts are carried out in this spirit. While humanitarian support is necessary to care for people living under occupation, development aid aims to ensure respect for human rights and enable a just peace. Aid is necessary to monitor violations of international law and hold the Israeli occupying power and Palestinian authorities accountable for their actions. We urge Hamas and Israel to immediately cease hostilities. 

We share the analysis expressed by Foreign Minister Tobias Billström in SvD that withdrawing Swedish aid at this stage would strengthen the terrorist organization Hamas, not the opposite. Therefore, we are surprised and deeply concerned about the decision to freeze development aid to Palestine presented by the government and the Sweden Democrats on Tuesday evening. Our elected officials must stop equating giving aid to a country’s people with aid to the country’s government. This leads to misconceptions and incorrect decisions. 

The development aid provided by Sweden, in partnership with local organizations, actively counters the agenda of Hamas, challenges their power and legitimacy, and works for democracy and human rights. Through democratic processes to reach a peaceful conclusion to this decades-long conflict, development aid offers alternatives to violent actors who are not interested in a peaceful solution. 

The recent events of the past few days should not be seen as proof that international efforts have been ineffective or misguided, but rather that they have been insufficient. In these difficult times, Sweden and the international community must remain committed to the ambition of a peaceful two-state solution and increase engagement to realize it through development and diplomatic efforts on both sides of the wall. 

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to support movements that strive for peace and democracy, for rights and the rule of law, for equality and opportunities. We are confident that our partners in Palestine wholeheartedly share this ambition. We are ready to continue and deepen our work for peace and freedom in Palestine and Israel. We urge all parties to immediately initiate dialogue for a peaceful resolution and for the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. 

Anna Tibblin, Secretary-General, We Effect
Martin Nihlgård, Secretary-General, IM
Erik Lysén, International Head, ACT Swedish Church
Anna Stenvinkel, Secretary-General, ForumCiv
Mattias Brunander, Secretary-General, Diakonia
Anna Sundström, Secretary-General, Olof Palme International Center
Maria Nyberg, Secretary-General, Union to union