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Text below from the official site of the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv. Please note the pro-Zionist language used in this official Swiss document.
 

Bilateral relations Switzerland-Israel

Friendship of half-century

Let us point out that in 1897, it is on Swiss soil, in Basel, at the time of the first Zionist congress, that the first bases of the State of Israel were established.

On January 25, 1949 the Swiss Federal government decided to recognise the State of Israel and both countries soon had close ties. Israel appreciated the value of the neutrality of Switzerland: it asked Bern on several occasions to represent its interests in States with which it had broken its diplomatic relations. Thus Switzerland represented the Israeli interests in Hungary (1967-1989), in Ceylon/Sri Lanka (1970-1976), in Madagascar (1973-1994) in Liberia (1973-1987) and in Ghana (November 1973).

The Swiss consulate in Tel-Aviv was reopened in May 1949, whereas Israel in parallel opened a consulate-general in Zurich.

In June 1951, the Israeli mission being transferred to Bern, the federal capital. In 1958 the two legations were transformed into Embassies. As for the previous consulate opened in 1927 to Jaffa, during the British mandate in Palestine, it was transferred initially to Tel-Aviv (1937), then to Jerusalem (1941), before being removed in 1952. Let us raise the fact that Carl Lutz, the vice consul having saved, in Budapest during 1944/45, the life of some 60’000 Jews, had been employed there from 1935 to 1941. In 1947 financial reasons imposed the closing of the trade agency opened one decade earlier in Tel-Aviv under the terms of an agreement concluded with the Jewish Agency.

The links between Switzerland and Israel were reinforced in particular by the signature of many bilateral agreements: air connections (1952), trade (1956), extradition (1958), conciliation, bankruptcy proceedings and arbitration (1965), suppression of the obligation of the visa (1967) and social security (1984). Moreover, one agreement of free trade, concluded within the framework from European Free Trade Association/EFTA came into effect in July 1993. Proposals for a convention of double taxation have led, in 1997, to negotiations; those are still pending.

Five Federal Counsillors – members of the Federal Government- including four heads of the Federal Department of the Foreign Affairs – the Swiss Ministry for Foreign Affairs - went to Israel on official visits which remained extremely rare out of Europe until the Seventies: Pierre Graber in September 1973, Pierre Aubert in October 1985 Flavio Cotti in May 1998, the latter covering also the duty of President of the Confederation for the year 1998. Let us remind that in 1998 it was the first time that a Swiss Head of State had visited Israel, a country which had just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its existence. Ruth Dreifuss, Federal Counsillor, Head of the Department of Home affairs, President of the Confederation in 1999, paid a visit to Israel in May 2000. In March 2001, Joseph Deiss, Federal Counsillor and Foreign Minister, was the guest of the Israeli government. Lastly, there were four more visits of state Secretaries. Among the Israeli official visits in Switzerland, let us raise those of Foreign Ministers A. Eban (1973), Mr. Dayan (1978), Y. Shamir (1980), D. Levy (March 2000) like those of President C. Herzog in April 1987 and of the Deputy Prime Minister S. Peres (June 1987). In November 1998, the cancellation of a visit in Switzerland by then Prime Minister B. Netanyahu had caused a certain blow in the bilateral relations and the perception of Israel among the Swiss population suffered. Israeli VIP’s frequently go to Switzerland in non official visit or to take part in congresses or conferences, in particular in Geneva, the European seat of the United Nations. In the number of the visits appear in particular that of first President C Weizmann for the collation of the title of honorary doctor of the University of Freiburg/Fribourg (September 1949), city where he had obtained his doctorate in chemistry, and that of D. Ben Gurion for the celebration of the centenary of the birth of T. Herzl (May 1960). In 1997, the commemoration of the centenary of the first Zionist congress gathered, in Basel, a significant delegation made up of Israeli personalities.



The evolution of the bilateral relations was inevitably affected – inter alia – by the political events in the Middle East and the controversy around the dormant accounts and by several cases of espionage In general, the relations are good, intensive and cover many fields.


At the time of the first stages of the history of the young State of Israel, Switzerland continued to observe with a certain reserve all that occurred to Europe and in the world and remained strictly neutral in the conflict of the Middle-East. Nevertheless, the majority of Swiss did not hide their great admiration, reinforced by the friendship, for the Jewish pioneers who were busy with the construction of a democratic and dynamic country. It is true that the Swiss people and the Israeli people kept several common points, in particular the multiculturalism, the national identity based on an ideal and the history, a tendency to want to excel, a society strongly marked by the notion of the citizen-soldier, an economy deprived of natural resources and depending on the creation of wealth generated by research and innovation, a society where thus the development of human resources preceded, this by education and formation. Did things change meanwhile? If the controversy about the role of Switzerland during the Second World war and the reappraisal of the contemporary history of our country revealed the weakening basis of certain myths, it also showed a reciprocal state of a certain ignorance. It is in particular by the means of this webpage to fill these gaps. While remaining apart from the European Union, Switzerland has nevertheless much to offer to Israel. Switzerland and Israel, two serious partners and respectful to one another. The two countries have many common points, can still better exploit synergies and establish a common network even denser.


Heads of Mission (Tel-Aviv)

Paul Ritter (1949-1951), Consul general
Otto Seifert (1951-1954), Minister
Fritz Hegg (1954-1957), Minister
Felix Schnyder (1957-1958), Ambassador
Emil Bisang (1958-1961), Ambassador
Pierre François Brügger (1961-1964), Ambassador
Jean de Stoutz (1964-1969), Ambassador
Hansjörg Hess (1969-1974), Ambassador
Jacques-Bernard Rüedi (1974-1977), Ambassador
Ernest Adolphe Bauermeister (1978-1983), Ambassador
Pierre-Yves Simonin (1983-1987), Ambassador
Jean-Pierre Keusch (1988-1989), Ambassador
Jean-Olivier Quinche (1989-1993), Ambassador
Gaspard Bodmer (1993-1996), Ambassador
Pierre Monod (1996-2000), Ambassador
Ernst Iten, Ambassador, since 2000,

 

 



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