Panel discussion of March 8th, 2016
Marcel Gyrs’ book (only in German language) „Swiss Terror Years – the secret Agreement with the PLO“, Publishing house Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2016, ISBN 978-3-03810-145-1, will help to reply questions and to describe the facts.
His motivation, to deal with this theme after so many years was a letter in which has been proposed, to indemnify the bereaved families of the victims. The bereaved were never compensated and in this same letter it is suggested, that Switzerland, which is supporting the PLO annually with Millions Swiss Francs, will pay at least some part of this support for compensations. His enquiries at the Swiss Department of Justice remained without reply or were rejected with comments that nothing can be done, because the crime became time-barred.
In his book, Marcel Gyr came to conclude, that a moratorium existed between Switzerland and the terror organization PLO. On Swiss side, the Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Graber negotiated it. The agreement included in return, an end of terror in and against Switzerland and an office at the UN in Geneva. Such an office would be a distinct political upgrading of the PLO internationally. However, what is today 46 years after the deal still so bad at an office of the PLO in Geneva, tolerated by Switzerland, that it is still impossible to discuss openly about it and even can’t be openly documented?
MP Alfred Heer, in his function as president of the Audit Committee (GPK) of the Swiss Parliament, is trying to answer this Question. He considers the facts presented by Marcel Gyr for conclusive, but not as 100 % proved. If a secret agreement exists, and if there was a suspension of criminal proceedings, he says, then this was a collapse of a constitutional state. Therefore a AG was formed within the GPK, to present new findings to the Federal Council by the end of April 2016, to find out what was actually negotiated and by whom. As a second measure he plans to establish a delegation of six persons with far reaching authority, enabling them to have full access to all records, including so called secret records.
Prof. Cavalli, a former MP of the Socialist Party SP, is changing from his favorite topics the criticism of Israel and the praise of Falastin, before he engages himself into discussions into this nebulous story, in which, as he suspects, disputes between the (two daily Newspapers) TA and NZZ play a role. Quickly he mentioned anti-Israeli definitions such as “situation of apartheid”, “occupied territories”, “war of terror against Gaza”, “uncontrolled development” and “a single state will not be a Jewish state”. Those who are interested in the whole philippic, may watch it in the video. However, I recognize my respect to Prof. Cavalli for participation in this event, but without my agreement for his confuse opinions!
To the precise question, if he knows about the agreement and if Switzerland is now on the leading-string of terrorists, he replied meaningless, this is possibly not the first time, but he does not know and nobody knows it,…. He then decided to quote Noam Chomsky, his like-minded comrade, who called the USA as the biggest terror state per se, and began to promote a book of this Israel hater that, causes a lot of damage to Israel. His reply of precise questions is as nebulous, like he called the „whole story“.
In 1970, when this moratorium was agreed, the PLO was defined explicitly as a terror organization. Was it, and this was the next question to Prof. Niggli, if it is not politically or constitutionally considered permitted or prohibited, allowed to conclude such an agreement with such organization? Even though agreed with a handshake only and not with a document?
Replies from lawyers are also comprehensible for juridical nonprofessionals: “If the law is overridden, then it is unimportant if it’s done for a friendly state or for a terror organization. It means, just someone decides what he think is wrong or right.” For Prof. Niggli this is a most alarming procedure. A criminal prosecution is on principle always possible, he claims, and then softening, “if one wants to do it.” He assumes that a prosecution against Minister Pierre Graber for abuse of office might have been possible. On the other hand, Graber would have claimed state of emergency and that he acted for the well being of Switzerland, as a contrary interpretation. Hardly disputable but alarming is, if the one who acts on his own, decides on his own what is “the well being”.
Assuming that the contended thesis in the book is correct, which is deductible, because no further terror acts were carried out against and in Switzerland? With such circumstances, was the agreement justified?
Prof. Cavalli again evades replying. “The recognition of the PLO was overdue and possibly was caused therefore. One should discuss the definitions of terror organizations and of terror acts. Every liberation campaign carried out terror acts.”
As in this context this is an insupportable statement Mr. Wigdorovits stopped it at once:
“Therefore, the 47 murdered of Würenlingen are just a little secondary theater?” Prof. Cavalli, now clearly distracted, compared the terror of the PLO with the PKK and the Jewish resistance against the British occupiers (in Palestine before 1948).
Jean Ziegler, party comrade of Graber and MP, Social Party, disposed already of good contacts with the PLO and its organizations. He might be, beside Graber, the second godfather of the agreement. In an interview of January 20th, 2016 with the Swiss radio he described in length his role in the environment of the negotiations and the motivations, which made Minister Graber to accept the agreement, “he only acted in the interest of the country. “
A short month later Jean Ziegler refused to acknowledge it: „Today I am confused and surprised that there was no prosecution and not even an international arrest warrant. But I do not know the reasons for passivity of the Federal Public Attorney.“
Possibly Prof. Cavalli had this zigzag course in his mind, when, asked about all this he spontaneously said: „Ziegler claims a lot.“ For this and possibly the only honest statement of the evening, he was honored with applause and laughter. Invigorated he arrived at the statement: “As Minister, under threat of terror acts, I would not have signed the moratorium. But at this moment I would have recognized the PLO.”
Then his horse hop into a safe area: “How to talk about something unknowing if it exists or not. As a physician, I am used to talk about facts. If not, my patients might get killed.”
MP Heer replied questions by Sacha Wigdorovits, after correcting the crude statements about the PLO, of Prof. Cavalli, who was increasingly agitated. Clearly, MP Heer said, the PLO is a terror organization. Blowing up planes is not a heroic struggle for liberation but a cowardly unjustifiable attack. With such organizations, Switzerland must not sign agreements.
Especially not, because the terror, if not in or against Switzerland, continued. Terror must be fought with the affected states. As long as Hamas shoots missiles against Israel, there will be no peace. Therefor Israel must not be accused for. MP Heer hopes that one day the PLO will have reasonable influencing forces trying to establish at least partly democratic structures.
Prof. Niggli confirms, that there are moments and situations where politic have priority over the rules of law. The former Federal Swiss Government made clear that with the release of the terrorists and their deportation to Egypt, it acted outside of the legality, but it was due to an emergency of humanity overruling the law. But the question is, who declared this emergency as given and defined. Today, his rather pessimistic approach, the situation is, in principle, not different. The bombing of the plane was tragic but the murder of 47 victims was no reason for a national emergency. Even though that national emergency was declared, is not the problem. The genuine scandal is, so Prof. Niggli, that something was done but than refuse that it has been done.
For MP Heer, after the thematic of the podium discussion, which was not in every aspect satisfying, asks the question as the real, professional final statement: if the cessation of the criminal procedures in the causa Würenlingen was part of the deal and not if the procedure has been negotiated in this form at all. This is the question; the Swiss government is trying to clarify in the coming months.
Pictures and Video: Klaus Rózsa | photoscene.ch
Translation: Dr. Dean Grunwald, Alexander Scheiner
© esther scheiner, israel