Pro-Palestinian NGO protests Israeli claim it has ties to Hamas


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A London-based Palestinian advocacy group that received observer status on a United Nations committee is protesting an Israeli claim that it has ties to the terrorist group Hamas.

On Monday, the Palestinian Return Center, a nongovernmental organization, was approved for the U.N. status amid the allegation that it is affiliated with and supports Hamas. The same day, the U.N. committee reportedly rejected a similar request from ZAKA, Israel’s volunteer emergency response and rescue service, which most recently helped search for survivors in the aftermath of the deadly Nepal earthquake.

The Israeli mission to the United Nations called the Palestinian Return Center “a coordinated organizational branch of Hamas in Europe.” Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, said in a statement that the United Nations “gave Hamas a welcoming celebration at its main entrance, allowing it to be a full participant.”

The center denied Israel’s claims.

“Due to our clear stance on the key issue of right of return for Palestinian refugees and supporting the related U.N. resolutions, which is entirely refused/denied by Israel, we are being bombarded by unfounded Israeli claims that we are affiliated to Hamas,” the center said in a statement posted on its website.

“We announce that PRC is considering legal action against the Israeli delegation at the UN. We also hold them accountable for the safety and security of our members worldwide.”

The center also said that it would lodge a letter of protest with the U.N. secretary-general.

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