Special to WorldTribune.com
The Swiss government negotiated a secret deal with Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to avoid terror attacks in Switzerland, according to a report.
The arrangement was made following the hijacking by Palestinian groups of two Swissair flights in 1970, according to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung (NZZ). Full details of the deal are protected by a 50-year statute of limitations.
The NZZ report said the secret negotiations in Geneva between Switzerland’s foreign minister and the PLO “risked creating a diplomatic crisis with the United States, Britain, Germany and Israel.”
In February 1970, a Swissair plane bound for Tel Aviv was blown up by Palestinian terrorists shortly after takeoff, killing all 47 passengers on board.
On Sept. 6, 1970, a Swissair flight en route to New York was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an affiliate of the PLO, and forced to land at Dawson’s Field airstrip in Jordan.
“The passengers were held for days and presented to television news crews from around the world, who were invited to hear the terrorists’ demands – the release of PLFP prisoners in Israel and in Europe,” the NZZ report said.
Over 200 of the hostages were transferred to Amman for release on Sept. 11, 1970, but Jewish passengers and three flight crews were kept at the airstrip and eventually released.
On Sept. 12, the PFLP blew up several empty explosive-laden planes. Following the explosions, Jordanian troops advanced on the airstrip, leading to a short stand-off.
“Jordan declared war on Palestinian groups in the country, a weeks-long battle that left thousands of Palestinian fighters and civilians dead. The episode was dubbed Black September,” according to the NZZ report.