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March 14, 2018 12:54 pm

Swiss Parliament Expected to Vote on Proposed Hamas Ban

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Hamas members in Gaza. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

The Swiss Parliament is set to vote Thursday on a proposal to end government contacts with Hamas and designate the group a terrorist organization.

Unlike many other European countries, Switzerland does not consider Gaza-ruling Hamas to be a terrorist organization and maintains a diplomatic relationship with it.

The ban was proposed by Swiss MP Christian Imark, who told The Algemeiner he was motivated by the belief that “you should not negotiate with terrorists.”

Moreover, Imark said, legitimizing Hamas does nothing to advance the prospect of peace in the Middle East.

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“Hamas has clearly no interest in peace because the leaders of Hamas profit from the current situation,” he pointed out. “They stabilize their power by profiting from violence and war.”

Imark — of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party — slammed “Swiss authorities” for collaborating with Hamas. “They do not realize that Hamas is a terror organization with no interest in peace,” he said. “Our government is playing a completely wrong role.”

Part of the problem, Imark noted, was that the Swiss public lacked knowledge of the subject. “The media in Switzerland only transfer the mindset of the United Nations regarding this conflict,” he said. “Therefore, many people in Switzerland are not well informed.”

Imark’s proposal reads in part, “To make common cause with terrorist organizations, which aim at the annihilation of a sovereign state, irritates to the highest degree and throws a crooked light on Swiss foreign policy. To block such dubious connections in the future, Hamas must be banned or classified as a terrorist organization.”

“Hamas has the goal of eliminating the democratic state of Israel by military means and establishing an Islamist theocracy. … Hamas glorifies violence against Jewish people,” it continues.

It also highlights Hamas’ use of antisemitic conspiracy theories, like those found in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“Although we are friends with Israel, we maintain direct contacts with terrorists who want to eradicate Israel from the map with the most brutal means,” the proposal concludes. “With a ban on Hamas and similar organizations or their classification as a terrorist organization, Switzerland’s cooperation with this terror could be stopped.”

A statement by opponents of the ban claims that contacts with Hamas “are specifically aimed at improving governance on the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government. … These contacts are also about deescalating the situation in Gaza and improving the catastrophic socioeconomic and humanitarian situation there. Switzerland’s commitment also aims to prevent violent extremism.”

It also asserts that Hamas has become “more pragmatic in some areas” and calls contacts with it “a critical dialogue” rather than “cooperation.”

“With its good offices, Switzerland is recognized as a pragmatic, discreet, and impartial actor by the Palestinian Authority as well as by the international community,” it states.

Imark does not believe the ban will be approved, because one of the opposing parties, the FDP, will seek to protect its minister for foreign affairs. The current Swiss government is also against the proposed ban.

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