Hamas spokesperson MUSHIR AL-MASRI R 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 Bern.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
Jewish community has criticized Müller over the years for his extreme
anti-Israel views and attendance at rallies where Israel is compared to Nazi
Müller has refused to condemn Hamas rocket attacks on
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.
international community also demands that Hamas adhere to all previous
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