The Israeli Foreign Ministry has slammed Switzerland for holding diplomatic talks with representatives of the Hamas movement.
"We are angry, since Hamas is still considered as a terrorist organization by the European Union, even if Switzerland is not an EU member," said Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
"By officially receiving a Hamas delegation, Switzerland is not placing itself among those who support moderation," he added.
According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, the Swiss diplomats met with the Hamas delegation in Geneva on the sidelines of a research institute conference last month.
"We are surprised that Switzerland has issued entry visas for representatives of an organization that is recognized by most of the international community as a terrorist organization," the Israeli embassy in Bern said in a statement late Wednesday.
Swiss officials, however, noted that as a recognized neutral country they routinely acted as "bridges" between warring parties.
Meanwhile, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey told local radio that Hamas was an "important player" in the Middle East and one that could not be ignored if a solution to the decades old conflict would be found.