Friday, July 17, 2009

For Switzerland, there are no terror organizations


The Jerusalem Post
Jul 17, 2009 2:46 | Updated Jul 17, 2009 10:31
For Switzerland, there are no terror organizations
Switzerland continues to dismay Israel, as its Foreign Minister
Micheline Calmy-Rey told Swiss RSR Radio on Wednesday that while she
recognizes there are terrorists, Switzerland does not have a list of
terrorist organizations because it believes that while a person can be
called a terrorist, an organization cannot.
During the interview, Calmy-Rey admitted that officials from her
ministry met in June with a Hamas delegation - led by former Hamas
foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar - when he was at an international
conference in Geneva.
The Swiss officials had joined a meeting the Hamas delegation held with
former US diplomat Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to the UN and
undersecretary of state. Pickering is today the co-chairman of the
non-profit International Crisis Group.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said "the Swiss government, by
ignoring the murderous and extremist character of Hamas, is again making
the wrong choice, sending the wrong signal, and missing an opportunity
to side with the moderates in the Middle East."
Palmor said "again" because in April, Israel recalled its ambassador to
Bern for consultations after Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz met with
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Pointing to the year-long spat the Swiss are having with Libya over the
arrest - and later release - in Switzerland of Muammar Gaddafi's son and
daughter-in-law, Palmor said Gaddafi last week called for breaking up
Switzerland, which he described as a "global mafia."
"How would the Swiss feel if we invited Gaddafi here now to discuss the
matter?" Palmor said.
The Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv said the Swiss Foreign Ministry had no
comment on the issue.
Palmor said that while Israel would not this time recall its envoy in
Bern, Ilan Elgar, for consultations, the ambassador would make Israel's
dissatisfaction known to the Swiss government.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU. The EU, like the US, does
consider Hamas a terrorist organization and has refused any contact with
it until Hamas recognizes Israel, forswears terrorism and accepts
previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Although there are some voices inside the EU - primarily from Sweden and
Belgium - that would like to ease these conditions so a dialogue could
be maintained with Hamas, Palmor said there was no real concern in
Jerusalem at this time that the EU would change its position on the matter.
The US has also not changed its position on Hamas, with The Washington
Post on Wednesday quoting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as
saying that before Hamas can participate in peace talks, "we have made
it clear, both publicly and privately, through all kinds of
pronouncements, that we would expect Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce
violence and agree to abide by prior agreements."

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