Swiss parliament welcomes Hamas spokesman (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 02/23/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
BERLIN – The National Palace (Bundeshaus), which houses the Swiss
parliament, hosted Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri, prompting
stinging criticism on Wednesday from Israel’s interim ambassador in
Speaking from Bern with The Jerusalem Post via telephone, Ambassador
ad interim (chargé d’affaires) Shalom Cohen said, “We were not happy
with this development.
We shared our view with the local authorities. It was a big mistake
to invite a member of Hamas, which calls for destruction of Israel.”
He added that Hamas is a “terrorist organization” and is recognized
as such by the Middle East Quartet and the international community.
“It is counterproductive and gave them [Hamas] legitimacy to continue
their terrorist activities, to continue to work on their basic
ideology: the destruction of Israel,” Cohen said.
Masri’s visit took place late last month but was first reported in
the German-language Swiss press this week, according to Cohen.
The Geneva-based Inter- Parliamentary Union invited Masri to the
Swiss Parliament, where he presented a pro-Hamas deputy, Geri Müller
of the Green Party, with a gift.
In response to a Post query about the Hamas visit, George Farago, a
spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, wrote: “Switzerland is obligated
to allow an invited guest of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of human
rights because the organization is located in Switzerland. For
Switzerland only UN sanctions are binding.”
Though the EU recognizes Hamas as a terrorist group, the Swiss
government is not a member of the EU and largely ignores EU
sanctions. Critics say the Swiss have overly relaxed policies toward
Islamic terrorists and Iran’s government.
When asked if Bern views Hamas as a terrorist group, Farago wrote
that “Switzerland does not maintain a comparable EU terror list in
which groups are designated as terrorists.”
Questioned if his government finds the Hamas Charter to be anti-
Semitic, Farago wrote: “Switzerland condemns all statements that
question Israel’s right to exist or call for violence.” He added that
it does not agree with many of the formulations and demands in the
charter, but that “if one is interested in a solution, one must speak
with all involved parties. That includes Hamas.”
The charter calls for the elimination of the State of Israel and is
an anti-Semitic document.
Asked why the Swiss authorities allowed a designated terrorist to
travel to Europe, Farago stressed that “in a democratic system it is
naturally understood that a separation of powers allows a member of
parliament to act independently.”
The Swiss Jewish community has criticized Müller over the years for
his extreme anti-Israel views and attendance at rallies where Israel
is compared to Nazi Germany.
Müller has refused to condemn Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
In an email to the Post on Wednesday, Dr. Herbert Winter, head of the
Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, wrote that community members
are “not surprised” about Müller’s activities. “From Geri Müller it
is nothing other than to be expected.”
However, Winter said the Hamas spokesman’s visit was unexpected: “To
invite Masri in the Bundeshaus is still out of place.”
Cohen said it is “very problematic for us” that the Swiss are meeting
with Hamas here and in the Middle East. “This is not the way to do
He said that before nations talk to Hamas, the radical Islamic group
has to first meet international demands, which include stopping all
terrorist activities and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
The international community also demands that Hamas adhere to all
previous PLO-Israel agreements. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY