The Palestinian Authority over the weekend closed down the offices of a human rights group in the West Bank that criticized senior Fatah official Azzam al- Ahmed, who is closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

PA Interior Minister Said Abu Ali, who signed the closure order, said that the work of the Palestinian Human Rights Foundation monitor was “not consistent” with the interests of the Palestinians.

The decision to shut down the foundation was taken following a recommendation by PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki.

Malki recommended that the offices of the human rights group in the West Bank be shut down “due to differences between its representatives in Lebanon and the Palestinian embassy in Beirut.” Abdel Aziz Tarekji, the regional director of the human rights group, said that he did not receive a warning from the PA authorities before the closure.

“We were completely surprised by the decision to close down our offices in the West Bank,” Tarekji said.

He said that he recently received threats from an aide to Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official and aide to Abbas.

According to Tarekji, the real reason for the closure of his offices in the West Bank are statements in which he criticized Ahmed for not visiting refugee camps when he was recently in Lebanon.

Following the criticism, one of Ahmed’s aides phoned him and threatened to shut down the group’s offices in the West Bank.

The human rights group is now considering taking legal action against the PA for closing down its offices in the West Bank, Tarekji said, adding that he was planning to send letters of protest to Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The human rights foundation was founded in Lebanon in 2005 as a non-political, non-factional and non-governmental organization.

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