Thursday, April 20, 2017

Switzerland: Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter is widely considered as unfriendly toward Israel

Via The Jerusalem Post (Benjamin Weinthal):

Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter’s meetings with the Jihadist organization Hamas have catapulted his policies into a critical spotlight in the central European country. 
According to the Swiss daily Blick on Sunday: “The foreign ministry calls for Western dialogue with Hamas. For this reason, Bern helps make the terrorist organization [Hamas] respectable, say critics.” 
The conservative Swiss People’s Party deputy and foreign policy expert, Alfred Heer, told the daily it is “unbelievable that the Federal Council’s Burkhalter does not finally end support of Hamas from the EDA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs].” 
Heer said the foreign minister should, on the holiday of Passover, give consideration as to why Switzerland supports an organization whose goal is the destruction of Israel.
Jacob Keidar, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday: “We have been conveying our views concerning Hamas to the Swiss government on a constant basis and we have been trying to persuade them to adopt our views.” 
Israel’s government, the European Union and the US classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Switzerland is not a member of the EU and has vehemently opposed adopting terrorist designations for Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. (...) 
Burkhalter, who is from The Liberals party, is widely considered as unfriendly toward Israel. 
In December, the Swiss government and a Finnish NGO spent almost $85,000 to host a workshop in Geneva to unify Hamas with the Ramallah- based Palestinian Fatah party.
In 2012, the National Palace (Bundeshaus), which houses the Swiss parliament, hosted Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri. Speaking from Bern with the 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. (...) 
Burkhalter’s ministry has been embroiled in a separate anti-Israel scandal involving funds for NGOs that allegedly call for boycotts against Israel and express antisemitic aims. 
“Switzerland finances in different ways organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories that call for the annihilation of Israel and for the death of Jews,” Basler Zeitung senior editor Dominik Feusi wrote in February. 
Since, 2013, the Swiss government has allegedly funneled nearly $700,000 to a human rights office in Ramallah that seeks to cover up the antisemitic work of its partner NGOs.
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