Berlin denies visa to Hamas politician

Israeli Embassy: We won’t let Germany become propaganda platform.

May 5, 2010 00:32
3 minute read.
Dr. Aziz Dweik.

aziz dweik 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

BERLIN – After discussions with German government officials, a senior diplomat at the Israeli Embassy told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the German government has denied a visa to Hamas legislator Dr. Aziz Dweik, who is slated to speak at the eighth annual Palestinians in Europe Conference in Berlin on Saturday.

“Germany plans to not let Hamas members into Germany. We take note, with great satisfaction, of Germany’s position, which is consistent with Israel’s position that Hamas is a terror organization that should be isolated,” the Israeli diplomat said.

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“We will be vigilant to ensure no Hamas member can use Germany as a platform for terror propaganda,” the diplomat said.

Aziz Dweik is also known as Abu Hashem. He became speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 and entered an Israeli prison in June of that year because of his membership in a terrorist organization. He was released in June 2009.

The Palestinians in Europe Conference will take place in the Tempodrom convention center in the heart of Berlin, and feature pro-Palestinian German politicians and hardcore anti-Israeli Germans.

According to the program, a key goal of the conference will be “to bring the European public closer to the true story as opposed to the Zionist misrepresentation... exposing Zionist crimes against Palestinians, like settlements and the apartheid wall.”

When asked whether her attendance alongside an anti-Semitic, sexist, anti-gay organization – Hamas – goes against the liberal philosophy of the Free Democratic Party, Alexandra Thein, an FDP representative in the European Parliament, wrote in an e-mail to the Post, “I would like to sincerely ask you not to question the liberal spirit of my party, to which I am deeply committed, both as a politician and as a human being.”

She added, “Dr. Aziz Dweik is the spokesman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected in general, direct, free, equal and secret [ballot] elections. The European Parliamentary Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council, of which I am a member, is in agreement that it is one of our parliamentary responsibilities to speak with representatives of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council anywhere that we can reach them geographically.”

Thein, who is married to an Israeli Arab, visited Gaza last January and along with 50 European members of parliament met with Hamas legislators. Thein’s FDP Web site contains a link to the “European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza.”

The European Union has placed Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations and Germany’s Interior Ministry has banned organizations that support and finance it.

Annette Groth, a Bundestag MP from the Left Party, is also slated to speak at the Palestinian Conference. She could not be reached for comment.

Groth, the human rights spokeswoman for the Left Party, has previously urged the German government to “debate and implement the demands of the Goldstone Report.”

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a Hamas expert, told the Post, “Dr. Aziz Dweik is a senior representative of the Hamas terrorist organization, which is known first and foremost for its suicide bombings and rocket attacks. Dweik has been arrested by Israel for his ties to terrorism.

“This does little for the credibility of the Palestinians in Europe Conference,” Schanzer said. “It will be hard for the organizers to explain what they seek to accomplish by having Dweik in the room. The same can be said of the presence of Sheikh Raed Saleh. Saleh is the leader of the Islamic Movement, which is based in Israel, and is known to have strong operational, financial and logistical ties with Hamas.”

Jessica Paul,a spokeswoman for the Tempodrom convention center, wrote in an e-mail to the Post that there was agreement in advance of the conference with the organizers that it would not be a “politically motivated event.”

Asked about the conference goals involving “exposing Zionist crimes” and comparing Israel’s policies to the former apartheid regime in South Africa, Paul did not immediately reply.

Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, an anti-Zionist German Jew, plans to to speak at the conference. She is part of a fringe group of anti-Israeli Jews. Hecht-Galinski has frequently compared Israel to Nazi Germany and invoked comparisons between apartheid and Israel.

A Cologne court issued a ruling last year affirming the right of Henryk M. Broder, a German-Jewish journalist, to write that Hecht-Galinski “specializes in anti-Semitic statements.”

According to the Palestinian Community of Germany Web site, between 70,000 and 100,000 German-Palestinians live in the Federal Republic, making it one of the largest Palestinian communities in Europe.

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