A UK-based Palestinian rights group accused of being a front for Hamas is expected to be granted official NGO consultative status by the UN this week.
Yesterday its director was caught removing anti-Semitic and terrorist-supporting posts from his social media accounts ahead of a vote on whether or not to grant the status.
In May this year the UN’s 19 member subcommittee on NGO’s voted by 12-3 with three abstentions to grant the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) observer status as an officially recognised NGO. According to the lobby group UN Watch, which monitors the UN for anti-Semitism, the status would allow PRC representatives “to acquire official UN badges, full access to UN facilities and participation in debates in New York, Geneva, and Vienna, and, perhaps most significantly, global legitimacy.”
Yesterday in New York, the UN’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council met to vote on whether to ratify the sub-committee’s earlier decision. Although the results of that vote have not yet been released, it is expected that the decision will have been favourable to the PRC, not least as the Centre managed to gain the support of more than 107 Parliamentary representatives from across Europe, including members of the British Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, Welsh Assembly and European Parliament.
In a letter addressed to the ECOSOC Member States, the parliamentarians wrote “The PRC is one of the very few NGOs working in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the Diaspora that is dedicated to finding a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with international law, international human rights declarations, and the many UN resolutions including Resolution 194.
“The PRC has been active in Europe since 1996. It is an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political, and legal aspects of Palestinian refugees. It specialises in the research, analysis, and monitoring of issues pertaining to the dispersed Palestinians and their internationally recognised legal right to return.
“By having this [NGO observer} status, PRC will boost the basic human rights activities in favour of the Palestinian refugees who suffer on a daily basis.”
Amongst the signatories was the Labour member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman, who earlier this month launched a bizarre diatribe against Israel in the House of Commons, the former IRA leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, far-left Labour leader hopeful Jeremy Corbyn, and Britain’s only Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Yet the parliamentarians are supporting a group which has been named by Israel as “Hamas’s organisational branch in Europe,” and whose members are “senior Hamas leaders who promote the movement’s agenda in Europe”. It is one of a small number of Palestinian organisations banned by Israel thanks to extensive links to Hamas both in Gaza and abroad.
The PRC has denied the claim, but has regularly played host to a number of senior Hamas members, including Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, at its annual conferences.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the Centre also has extensive links to the Muslim Brotherhood, sharing its directors with Muslim Association of Britain, the Brotherhood’s main declared British affiliate.
It also shares its UK offices in Crown House, on London’s North Circular Road, with other organisations similarly well linked. “The organisations based at Crown House comprise broadly the Brotherhood’s UK outreach wing,” the Telegraph noted.
Indeed, its links to Hamas have been made public for some time now – in 2011, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center issued a comprehensive 80 page report on the activities of the PRC which found that “Senior PRC figures, among them Hamas activists, hold positions in other groups and organizations which spread anti-Israeli propaganda, transfer funds to Hamas and dispatch land and sea convoys to the Gaza Strip. Some of the organizations are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and one with the extreme British left.”
Yesterday, presumably in a bid to hide his organisations true motives, the senior figures within the PRC deleted a number of anti-semitic and pro-terrorist social media posts.
PRC Tarek Hamoud deleted tweets and set his twitter to private, so that only authorised contacts could follow him.
Sadly for Hamoud, UN Watch took screen shots of the material before it was taken down, and have reproduced it on their website. Amongst the removed tweets are one which depicts and hand with three fingers raised in salute, posted on July 14 2014, just two days after Hamas kidnapped three Israeli boys. The three were later found murdered.
Another deleted tweet threatens the PLO President Mahmoud Abbas with “punishment”, for opposing Hamas. He is depicted alongside the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with the text “The faces are different but the crime is one, and the punishment will be the same #Gaza_wins”
A spokesman from UN Watch commented: “A group that celebrates kidnappings violates the peace and human rights principles of the UN Charter and should not be granted NGO status.”
Similarly, PRC chair Majed Al-Zeer took down a Facebook post which showed a Jewish man guzzling fuel from a pump which was being used to hang a Palestinian woman.
The social media posts, and known links, prompted UN Watch to call on ECOSOC to overturn the decision of the NGO Committee in granting PRC official observer status.
UN Watch’s executive director Hillel Neuer said: “ECOSOC, which has a better ratio of democracies to tyrannies than its subsidiary, has in the past often overturned highly problematic decisions such as this one.
“We appeal today to all ECOSOC member states to do the right thing and reject the Hamas-linked group’s illegitimate bid to subvert the UN. PRC officials routinely deploy antisemitic images and statements. If ECOSOC fails to reject a group so intimately tied to terror, the decision will cast a shadow upon the reputation of the UN as a whole.”