Swiss government hosts $85,000 event aiming to unify Hamas and Fatah

Palestinians on social media blasted the Swiss initiative as a “waste of money.”

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January 16, 2017 18:33
2 minute read.
palestinian unity gaza

A demonstrator in Gaza City holds a Palestinian flag during a rally calling on rivals Hamas and Fatah to end their political division. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Swiss government and a Finnish NGO spent almost $85,000 to host a workshop in Geneva to unify the EU and US-classified terrorist organization Hamas with the Fatah party, according to a report on Monday in the daily Basler Zeitung.

The eye-popping revelation said Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs organized meetings between Hamas and Fatah over a two day period last December. The Basler reported that Palestinians on social media blasted the Swiss initiative as a “waste of money.”

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Islamic Jihad reacted to the criticism by canceling its participation. Swiss government representatives and MPs have met with Hamas politicians over the years. The Swiss leadership, according to the article, maintains “friendly relations with Hamas,” according to the report.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and has declined to label Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist entities.

Musa Muhammad Abu Marzouk, the second-most powerful man in Hamas, was provided with a visa to travel to Switzerland. The US Treasury Department listed Abu Marzouk as a specially designated terrorist in 1995, and he has drawn scrutiny for his fund-raising in the EU and in the US.

The Basler article said the tone on social media conveyed that the event costs could have better used for construction projects in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Swiss paid nearly $72,000 for the talks. The Finnish NGO contributed $18,000.

The Palestinian Center for Policy Research & Strategic Studies – Masarat played a key role in the development of the talks between Hamas and Fatah. Hani al-Masri, who oversees Masarat, was a member of the EU and the US-designated terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


In a 2015 article titled “Boycott: An Effective Weapon,” Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram quoted Masri as saying BDS “may change the whole situation, but only if used as an instrument of long-term strategy, not as a tactical way of improving the conditions of Palestinians living under occupation, or to enhance the terms of negotiations.”

In a stinging criticism of the Hamas and Fatah meeting, Dominik Feusi, a senior editor of Basler, wrote in an editorial on Monday that a more important priority for the Swiss government is “engagement against the antisemitism and Arab racism that is co-funded by Switzerland.”

He called for the Swiss government to abolish funds for NGOs that promote agitation and terrorism.

Feusi wrote that there can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians because the Palestinians wage terrorism against Israel and seek “to destroy the only democracy in the region.” Feusi said the foreign affairs department courts anti-Israel NGOs and this neither serves the aims of the parliament nor the strategy for foreign affairs in the Middle East.

In 2012, the National Palace (Bundeshaus), which houses the Swiss parliament, hosted Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri. Speaking from Bern with The Jerusalem Post at the time, 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, [and] to continue to work on their basic ideology: the destruction of Israel,” Cohen said.

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