GENEVA (Feb. 28)
A professional visit to Israel by 180 Swiss army reserve officers was canceled because of the disturbances in the Israeli-administered territories, the Swiss news media reported last week.
There was no official confirmation but the daily La Tribune de Geneve reported Saturday that the trip was abandoned owing to “discreet pressure” from the Foreign Office and Defense Ministry.
Both ministries denied they had applied any pressure. The Foreign Office admitted, however, that it had asked the officers not to wear their uniforms while in Israel and not to visit the West Bank or the Golan Heights.
According to La Tribune de Geneve, the officers decided that a visit by them to Israel under present circumstances could be misinterpreted.
The trip was organized by the Israeli military attache in Bern, Mordechai Alon, with the assistance of the Swiss army chief of staff, Eugene Luthy, who visited Israel last year and returned a “true friend,” according to Alon.
The reservists belong to the Association of Swiss Officers, an independent group that schedules trips abroad for its members each year. Last year about 30 toured the United States and inspected military installations there.
Alon told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that when the trip to Israel was announced, 230 officers applied to go, but the number was limited to 180 for logistical reasons.