Finland’s relations and development cooperation in Palestine

Finland's development cooperation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory safeguards education that is inclusive and of high quality, contributes to inclusive state-building and strong civil society. It also strengthens the resilience of those Palestinian communities in the most vulnerable situations.  Finland’s support focuses on the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a whole, with a particular emphasis on Area C and East Jerusalem in the West Bank, and on Gaza.

Finland’s support to the Palestinian education sector has produced good results: better access to public pre-schools, fewer drop-outs, and increase in vocational training.  Photo: Majdi Fathi / NurPhoto / Lehtikuva

The Occupied Palestinian Territory is a fragile environment. The development in Palestine is hampered by the Israeli occupation and the fragmentation in terms of the population, territory and political power and administration as well as from democracy deficit. More than 5.7 million Palestine refugees live on assistance provided by the UN in Palestine and in neighboring countries.

Finland supports the Palestinian state-building efforts both politically and through development cooperation. The cooperation started in 1994, and good results have been achieved especially in the education sector.

Finland’s objectives in Palestine are described in the Country Strategy and in the Country Programme. The latter focuses on development cooperation. The Country Strategy for 2021–2024 aims to promote the peaceful and negotiated two-state solution, to defend the realisation of human rights, and to strengthen the civil society and Palestinians’ resilience in fragile conditions.

Finland's Country Strategy for Palestine (PDF, 315 KB)

Objectives of Finland’s development cooperation in Palestine in 2021–2024

In 2021–2024, Finland's bilateral development cooperation will focus on improving the quality of education, strengthening Palestinian state-building and civil society, and building resilience of Palestinian communities in the most vulnerable situations. The planned support for Palestine in 2021–2024 is EUR 28 million.

Finland’s Country Programme for Development Cooperation in Palestine in English (PDF, 631 KB)

A Chart on Finland’s planned development cooperation appropriations for Palestine 2021-2014. Strenghtening resilience: 4.8 million euro. Education: 14 million euro. State building and civil society: 9.2 million euro. Support for education promotes quality education. Support to state building and civil society promotes gender equality, peace, justice and strong institutions. Strenghtening resilience promotes: no poverty, decent work and economic growth.

Finland's planned appropriations for Finland’s development cooperation country programme in Palestine  in 2021–2024

Finland's development cooperation in the education sector

Finland’s support for the education sector in Palestine safeguards the right of Palestinian children and youth to high-quality inclusive education. The aim is to raise completion rates in primary and secondary education, eliminate gender disparities, ensure equal access to education and improve teaching and learning environments. 

Expected outcome: All children in Palestine will receive more equitable and high-quality education

  • Equitable access to education at all levels enhanced
  • Teaching and learning pedagogy and environments improved

Ongoing programmes and projects:

  • Education sector support through the Joint Financing Arrangement co-funded by Finland together with Germany, Ireland and Norway. Finland’s support for the programme in 2021–2022 amounts to EUR 6 million. Finland serves currently as the coordinator of the joint programme and as a lead donor in the EU’s education sector.
  • Through UNICEF’s BRAVE project (Building Resilience and Addressing Violence from Early years through Adolescence), Finland seeks to strengthen violence-free living and learning environments from pre-primary school to upper secondary school and to foster the protection of children and school environment. Finland's support for the project in 2020–2022 amounts to EUR 1.6 million.

Finland supports inclusive state-building and fosters stronger democracy and human rights

Finland supports inclusive state-building and strengthening of Palestinian civil society. The aim is to support national unity, citizen-centered and effective government institutions that are accountable to citizens and as well as to empower women and youth

Expected outcome: Inclusive state-building and a stronger civil society

  • Functioning and accountability of institutions improved
  • An enabling environment for civil society and citizen participation strengthened

Ongoing programmes and projects:

  • Through EU’s PEGASE mechanism support is channelled to the East Jerusalem hospitals. The aim is to strengthen Palestinian institutions’ effectiveness and accountability and equal social development.  In 2021, the support is EUR 2 million.
  • Independent Commission for Human Rights, ICHR, promotes human rights and a more democratic and tolerant Palestinian society. The ICHR is co-funded by Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Finland’s support in 2021-2022 amounts to 550,000 euros.
  • Ta’awon for Conflict Resolution − Palestinian Women in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding is an organisation that aims to strengthen women’s role in conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding. Finland’s support to the organisation in 2019–2021 is EUR 60,000.

Strengthening the resilience of Palestinian communities in vulnerable situations

Finland’s aim is to strengthen the resilience, livelihoods and living conditions of Palestinian communities living in vulnerable conditions. In its support, Finland will focus on meeting the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in most vulnerable situations and on protecting their rights.

Expected outcome: Resilience of Palestinian communities in vulnerable circumstances strengthened

  • The humanitarian needs of Palestinians in vulnerable circumstances are met and their rights are protected
  • Livelihoods and living conditions of Palestinians in Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza enhanced

Ongoing programmes and projects:

  • UNDP’s Transformative Resilience Program aims to promote the resilience of Palestinians in the most vulnerable conditions in Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Finland's support for the project in 2021–2023 amounts to EUR 3 million.
  • The West Bank Protection Consortium (WBPC) is supported by ECHO and ten EU member states, including Finland. The WBPC aims to strengthen the preconditions for development in Palestinian communities in Area C and East Jerusalem and to address the root causes of vulnerability and the accountability of duty-bearers. The programme is implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council together with four international humanitarian organisations. Finland's funding for the programme in 2019–2021 is EUR 800,000.

Highlights of the Results Report 2022

Palestine suffers from occupation by Israel and a protracted protection crisis, with 40% of its population in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022. The number of Palestinian homes and other structures demolished or seized by Israel is the highest since 2016. Internal Palestinian political divisions continued due to the long-overdue legislative and presidential elections, and geographical division between the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.  

The support of Finland, together with that of other European partners and UNICEF, safeguarded Palestinian children’s right to equitable and quality education by improving the standard of learning environments, raising teacher qualifications and improving students’ learning. Secondary enrolment for both girls and boys, including for students with disabilities, increased. There was also an increase in the participation of girls in vocational education, widening educational opportunities. Finland maintained an influential role in education policy dialogue. 

Finland contributed to state-building and the strengthening of Palestinian civil society by supporting the capacity of institutions and public services (such as the East Jerusalem hospitals and the education sector). It also supported the integration of human rights in domestic legislation and policies through the Independent Commission of Human Rights. 

Finland strengthened the resilience of vulnerable communities in cooperation with the West Bank Protection Consortium, the UNDP and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees UNRWA.

Finland's humanitarian aid to Palestine

Finland provides humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territory to save lives, alleviate human suffering and protect human dignity in times of crisis.

Finland has a multiyear agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to provide humanitarian assistance. The current agreement is for 2023-2026 and amounts to EUR 5 million a year.

The UNRWA is an impartial and independent humanitarian agency of the UN that provides basic public services (education, healthcare and social services) to Palestinian refugees. It is also responsible for maintaining the infrastructure in refugee camps and for creating income-generating opportunities through microfinance grants. The UNRWA provides its neutral humanitarian assistance and services in an environment that is difficult in political, economic and humanitarian terms.

Finland’s humanitarian assistance to the UNRWA is solely based on humanitarian needs in the regions covered by the UNRWA (the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria), and not out of political considerations.

Finland’s partners for cooperation in Palestine

As a Member State of the EU, Finland takes part in policy dialogue with various actors in the society. The main themes of this dialogue are democracy development, human rights and the EU’s support to the Middle East Peace Process.  In addition, Finland explores opportunities to participate in the EU’s joint programmes. 

Several Finnish civil society organisations support the development of Palestinian society in collaboration with the Palestinian civil society. At present, Finnish CSOs’ support for Palestine focuses on education and the empowerment of women and youth. 

Team Finland cooperation

Trade between Finland and Palestine is modest. The Israeli occupation limits free movement and trade in the Palestinian Territory.