Swedish MPs to meet Hamas representatives

Representatives of the Hamas government are to meet Swedish members of parliament in Stockholm. The organisers of the meeting are the Green Party's Yvonne Ruwaida and the Social Democrats' Mariam Osman Sherifay.

“When we heard that they were coming to Sweden we got in touch. We want a dialogue,” said Yvonne Ruwaida.

No timescale for the meeting has been set since the representatives’ entry visas are yet to be arranged, but it will be held in conjunction with the controversial Malmö trip.

When a date and time is fixed, other members of parliament will be invited, according to Ruwaida.

“The situation in Gaza and the West Bank has never been so bad as it is now,” she said, arguing that a dialogue is needed, not a boycott.

“A boycott could mean that Hamas is isolated and ultimately only has contact with the Muslim world, and that would be unfortunate. We want to break the isolation,” she said.

Ruwaida welcomed the Norwegian government’s attitude, where officials from the foreign ministry are to meet the Hamas representatives.

In such a meeting, issues can be raised and criticisms put forward, she said.

“We consider that both Hamas and the new Israeli government must respect the UN resolutions regarding a two-state solution. We ask for respect from both parties and that’s what we want to convey,” said Ruwaida.

Opposition parties have protested against the fact that three Palestinian organisations in Malmö have invited Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil, Hamas group leader in the Palestinian parliament, and Muhammad al-Rantissi, brother of the former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, to the city as part of a European tour.

They will visit Norway on May 15th and Malmö the day after.

The leader of the Christian Democrats, Göran Hägglund, reacted swiftly to the news that members of parliament were planning a meeting. He called for prime minister Göran Persson to intervene to block the meeting.

“Is Sweden to offer a platform to a terrorist organisation? Göran Persson cannot remain neutral to this,” he wrote in a press statement.

Protesting against the visit does not, according to Hägglund, mean rejecting dialogue.

“It is protesting against a group which is not capable of distancing itself from the absolute opposite of dialogue – blowing innocent people to bits to attain goals,” he wrote.