UN grants Hamas-linked group consultative status
Israel condemns decision by 19-member committee to recognize Palestinian Return Center as an NGO
Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.
A UN committee on non-governmental organizations granted official consultative status Monday to a Palestinian advocacy group with alleged ties to the Hamas terror group.
Israel’s mission to the UN condemned the committee’s decision to approve the UK-based Palestinian Return Center, calling it “a coordinated organizational branch of Hamas in Europe.”
Following the decision, Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor castigated what he called “the height of the ‘theater of the absurd’ at the United Nations.
“Until today, the UN has given Hamas discounts, thereby helping it strengthen its activities,” Prosor said. “Now, the UN has gone one step further, giving Hamas a grand welcoming at its main gates, allowing it to be a full participant.”
Consultative status grants PRC leaders access to UN facilities worldwide and the ability to participate in various events and debates.
Twelve of the 19-member committee voted in favor of the motion, including Turkey, Iran, Sudan, China and Pakistan. Three countries voted against — Israel, the US and Uruguay. India, Russia and Greece abstained and one country, Burundi, did not attend.
While it officially denies any Hamas links, the PRC was banned by Israel in 2010 for its “deep entanglement with top leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization based in Gaza and abroad,” UNWatch reported last month.
According to a February report in the UK’s Telegraph, the PRC “regularly” hosted top Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh, at the organization’s annual conferences.
Both the US and EU have designated Hamas a terrorist organization.
Israel’s Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center also detailed PRC’s Hamas links in a 2011 report.
“Senior PRC figures send flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip and transfer funds to Hamas,” the center said. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also addressed the PRC’s annual European conference on several occasions, it said.
JTA contributed to this report.