Hamas at Intl. Conference; Israel Walks Out
The Israeli delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Ethiopia left the conference on Tuesday over the participation of Hamas delegates. Delegation head Silvan Shalom gave a speech announcing Israel's decision to leave and comparing the presence of Hamas to deciding to invite “Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
The presence of Hamas at an international conference violated the terms set by the International Quartet, Shalom said. The Quartet conditions state that Hamas should not be granted recognition until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel, and accepts all agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli team discovered after agreeing to attend the conference that two members of the “Palestinian team,” comprised of 14 delegates, are senior members of Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to destroying Israel. The two were identified as Abu Ras and Bechar Ahmed.
MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima), another member of the Israeli delegation who himself was born in Ethiopia, explained that the Israeli delegates met with the Swedish conference head, Anders Johnsson, and asked him to remove the Hamas delegates from the conference. When they were met with refusal, they decided to leave, he said.
As Shalom announced the delegation's decision to leave, the two Hamas delegates stood, along with 41 members of the Iranian delegation, and held up photos of destruction and Arab casualties from Israel's Cast Lead counterterrorism offensive in Gaza. The group then left the hall.
After Hamas and the Iranian delegates had walked out, Shalom explained Israel's position, and the Israeli delegation left.
Knesset head Reuven Rivlin praised the delegates' behavior, and sent a message to United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to recall America's delegation to the conference as well.