HOW SWISS ‘PAID OFF’ THE PLO

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOBY AX­EL­ROD

A SWISS jour­nal­ist has re­vealed a 45-year-old se­cret deal be­tween the Swiss govern­ment and the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (PLO), un­der which Bern paid the ter­ror­ists not to carry out at­tacks against their coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor Mar­cel Gyr, a staff writer at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, then-for­eign min­is­ter Pierre Graber made the deal in Septem­ber 1970 as PLO ter­ror­ists were hold­ing 300 pas­sen­gers hostage in three jets hi­jacked to Jor­dan, in­clud­ing a Swis­sair air­craft. Ear­lier in the year, a Swis­sair flight to Tel Aviv had been blown up in mid-air near Zurich, killing all 47 pas­sen­gers and crew.

Mr Gyr’s book, Swiss Ter­ror Years. The Se­cret Deal with the PLO, came out this month. His main source was then­Na­tional Coun­cil mem­ber Jean Ziegler, who con­firmed that he had made the con­tact with Pales­tinian Farouk Kad- doumi, now 85 and sec­re­tary gen­eral of Fatah’s cen­tral com­mit­tee and the PLO’s political depart­ment in Tu­nisia.

In the 1970s, Mr Ziegler — to­day a mem­ber of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, who has been much crit­i­cised by main­stream Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions for its anti-Is­rael bias — of­ten en­ter­tained high-level Pales­tini­ans guests, who en­joyed his Egyp­tian wife’s cook­ing. Mr Ziegler was also on good terms with Mr Graber.

Both men knew, writes Mr Gyr, that their se­cret con­tact with Pales­tini­ans could mean the end of their political ca­reers.

Swiss Mideast Ex­pert Pas­cal de Crousaz told the Swiss­info web­site that he doubted the deal “tied Switzer­land’s hands. The Swiss Con­fed­er­a­tion didn’t just sud­denly change loy­al­ties. They still had close re­la­tions with Is­rael, at the diplo­matic level as well as mil­i­tary and civil­ian.”

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