The Geneva-based International Parliamentary Union has broken a month-old promise not to invite Hamas to its 2012 session.
Three members of Hamas political party, which the recognized terrorist organization calls the “Change and Reform” party, left Gaza on Thursday for its first participation at an IPU meeting, where the Hamas delegates said they would discuss "Zionist crimes against (Hamas) members of parliament, in particular their kidnap and deportation."
"This is just another example of international hypocrisy," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli radio.
However, this is not the first time Hamas has attended an IPU function. Nearly three years ago, the Israeli delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Ethiopia walked out of the conference over the participation of Hamas delegates.
This time around, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said the IPU explicitly promised to keep Hamas out. He said that during a visit to Geneva last month, he IPU director Anders Johnson categorically stated that the group would not allow Hamas to attend under the guise of Palestinian Authority delegates or as a separate entity.
Israel, as a member of the IPU, pays dues amounting to 250,000 shekels ($65,000) a year. Neither Lieberman nor Rivlin said explicitly that Israel will withdraw from the parliamentary organization, but Rivlin stated, "The president of the IPU, Anders Johnson, promised me at a meeting last month in Geneva that he would not help Hamas gain international recognition.
He added, “Given this blatant violation, we not only will protest but also will weigh our future in the IPU and the next payment of dues.
“Hamas is not a country. It is not even an entity. It is defined by many European nations as a terrorist group, and now it receives recognition in an important international forum. Israel will not agree to pay for a theatre ticket for a show where we are the sacrificial lamb.”
Rivlin said that Israel does not have to withdraw from every international organization where Israel is criticized, but in this case, “we are talking about opposition to the very existence of Israel.”
The Knesset Speaker said that during his conversation with Johnson, he warned that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, headed by Fatah party leader PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, would try to use the recent Fatah-Hamas unity pact as an excuse to allow Hamas join IPU meetings.
He said Johnson replied, “The unity pact will not help Hamas, The IPU will insist that the Palestinian Authority not include Hamas members. There have been attempts in the past to involve e Hamas with its delegations, but we stopped them.”
Johnson did not issue a statement concerning the Hamas delegation, headed by its spokesman Mushir Al-Masri.