In Switzerland, there is currently an intensive discussion about whether Hamas should be classified as a terrorist organization. Hamas is on the EU’s and the US’s list of terrorist organizations, but not in Switzerland. So far, only IS and al-Qaeda have been classified as such by the Swiss authorities.
The supporters of a ban point to the crimes committed by Hamas in recent days. Opponents of a ban fear that Switzerland will lose its role as a mediator in the Middle East.
Swiss diplomat Maya Tissafi said in an interview with the newspaper “Tagesanzeiger” today that “Switzerland immediately contacted Hamas representatives after the terrorist attacks on the weekend and urged them to stop the violence and release the hostages immediately.”
From a negotiation perspective, it is important to distinguish between two elements:
1. there is the formal, externally visible negotiation at the table.
2. there is the informal negotiation, which takes place in the background and is exploratory.
Formal negotiations with Hamas are currently unimaginable; no government or organization wants to be seen at a negotiating table with Hamas.
Informal negotiations, however, are necessary. Making contact is essential to test the waters and to explore potential solutions.
Under the impression of the horrific images of the weekend, one is quickly inclined to make an emotional decision. Emotional decisions, however, are rarely successful in the long run. If Switzerland were to ban Hamas, the only point of contact with a Western state would be cut off. The decision to withdraw would be made on morally justifiable grounds.
Then again, if Switzerland does not engage in negotiations, other states and organizations will take over. Russia and China have already made first proposals.
The following applies to all negotiations: those who are in an information deficit must start a negotiation. Guessing games without substantiated information are not allowed.
My appeal to all politicians in Switzerland: please assess the information calmly and carefully before making a decision. Do not make a decision driven by emotions and the angry public.
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