The Swiss government is facing increased criticism over an alleged agreement it secretly made with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1970 to offer the group diplomatic support in exchange for an end to terrorist attacks on its territory, the BBC reported on Friday.
The deal, detailed in an upcoming book by Swiss journalist Marcel Gyr, followed a series of deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinian groups in 1969 and 1970 that caused major concern in Switzerland. These included the fatal shooting of an El Al pilot at Zurich airport, the bombing of a Swissair flight from Zurich to Israel that killed all 47 people on board, and the hijacking of another Swissair flight that was diverted along with British and American airliners to Jordan, where terrorists held over 300 passengers hostage.
In an effort to release the Swiss captives taken during the hijacking, Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Graber covertly contacted the PLO through a member of the Swiss parliament without informing other ministers. Graber agreed to release those accused of attacking the El Al plane in exchange for the freedom of the Swiss hostages. He also consented to stop an investigation into the bombing of the Swissair flight and to use Switzerland’s diplomatic corps to advocate for international recognition of the PLO.
Though Palestinian groups carried out more terrorist attacks throughout Europe after 1970, none targeted Switzerland.
The BBC wrote that there is growing controversy over the allegations in Switzerland, noting that relatives of those killed in the Swissair flight “may be justified in feeling angry” that no one has been arrested for the bombing even though Swiss authorities have identified a mastermind. The BBC added that the deal may seem particularly “outrageous” to many in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe.
According to Ynet, after the initial contact, Graber himself led a small delegation to meet with high-level PLO officials including Farouk Kaddoumi, then the right-hand man of PLO leader Yasser Arafat. While many of the documents about this case remain classified, the Swiss media has dubbed the arrangement the “surrender to terrorism agreement.”
The Times of Israel reported that Jean Ziegler, described as “a left-wing human rights activist,” has admitted to acting as the parliamentary intermediary between Graber and the PLO, though he would not say if he had participated in any secret meetings.
[Photo: ITN Source / YouTube ]