BDS Switzerland condemns the Swiss approval to the purchase of Israeli drones amidst significant opposition inside and outside parliament.
On June 16, 2015, a majority in the National Council of the Swiss parliament voted in favour of purchasing six Hermes 900 drones from Israeli company ELBIT for the Swiss army. A sum of CHF 250 million Swiss francs is to be spent on the drones. During the last two years, BDS Switzerland and other organizations have led a campaign against this arms deal. Nearly 30,000 people have signed a petition that was handed over to the Federal Council and parliament in February 2015. Even as the Swiss government and parliament are still determined to obtain their drones from Israel, the resistance is growing. We are pleased that 56 members of the National Council from the Green and social-democratic parties followed a request by a minority of the parliamentary Defence Commission and voted for excluding the Hermes 900 drones from the armament program. This political opposition reflects the growing resistance in society to the military cooperation with Israel.
BDS Switzerland strongly condemns the decision of the parliamentary majority to buy drones from a company that prides itself to test their products "in the field". This testing amounts to the targeted killings of Palestinians, including many children, and to the extensive destruction of civil infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. ELBIT strongly benefits from the Israeli policy of continuous occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories and is complicit in the blatant violations of international humanitarian law and a wide range of human rights.
With this arms deal, Switzerland is deliberately disregarding its obligations both regarding international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the Human Rights Charter of the United Nations. This is even more disturbing as legal investigations into possible war crimes committed by Israeli troops during the attack on the Gaza Strip are currently set out by different international institutions. Instead of condemning the Israeli violations of international law and human rights and ensuring the basic rights of the Palestinian population, Switzerland makes itself an accomplice and reaffirms the impunity that Israel today benefits from.
BDS Switzerland condemns in particular the ongoing military cooperation of the Switzerland with Israel in the context of counter-trades with the Israeli armament industry that will follow the purchase of the drones. We endorsed the call of Palestinian civil society to impose a two-way military embargo on Israel in order to end the impunity and to finally enforce the legitimate fundamental rights of the Palestinians. BDS Switzerland will therefore continue its campaign for an arms embargo also after the definitive decision on the purchase of Israeli drones will take place in autumn.