UN grants NGO status: NGO Status Palestinian Return Centre

Published: June 5, 2015

UN grants NGO status: NGO Status Palestinian Return Centre, The British-based Palestinian Return Centre on Tuesday threatened Israel’s U.N. mission with legal action after Israel accused it of having ties to Hamas, an allegation the group said was false.

The Israeli accusations came after a United Nations committee that oversees non-governmental organizations voted to approve U.N. accreditation for the PRC, which Israel’s mission said was not only linked to Hamas but promoted “anti-Israel propaganda in Europe.”

“We announce that PRC is considering legal action against the Israeli delegation at the U.N.,” the group said in a statement circulated to the 19-member U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.

“Such allegations and defamation where we are described as terrorist and affiliated to Hamas are dangerous, baseless and will have negative ramifications on our work and members,” the statement said.

On Monday, the mission said Israel had banned the PRC in 2010 because of its ties to Hamas, labeling it “an organizational and coordinating wing of Hamas in Europe” with members that include senior Hamas officials.

“This is the peak season for the U.N.’s theater of the absurd,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said in a statement. The Israeli mission did not comment Tuesday on the threat of legal action.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s office announced on Tuesday that Haniyeh had called the NGO’s leader, Majed al-Zeer, and congratulated him on its new U.N. status.

But a spokesman for the Palestinian Return Centre, Sameh Habeeb, said al-Zeer had not received a call from Haniyeh. Later on Tuesday, a Haniyeh spokesman sent a message to reporters asking them “not to deal” with the earlier announcement about the phone call. Sameh Habeeb, a spokesman for PRC, denied the conversation took place.

The PRC operates as a legal entity in Britain. The British mission did not react to Monday’s vote in the U.N. NGO committee.

The United States and European Union have designated Hamas, the de facto authority of the Gaza Strip, a terrorist organization. The Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank.

The PRC statement said the Israeli allegations had no credence and were solely based on Israeli intelligence and other sources from within Israel. It added that there was no corroborating evidence from a third country.

The PRC said it would soon send an official letter of protest to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the 54 member states of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, which has final say on NGO-related matters.

On its website, the PRC describes itself as “an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of the Palestinian refugees.”

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