LONDON – The British government has invited Israel to submit a formal request
that it investigate a London-based organization that Jerusalem accuses of being
affiliated with Hamas and “complicit” in terrorist activities.
RELATEDProbe launched on 'Travel Palestine' ad omitting Israel
Foreign Office told The Jerusalem Post this week that Israel had not yet raised
any concerns or asked Britain to launch an investigation into the work of the
Palestine Return Centre (PRC), despite Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s signing an
order last month declaring it an illegal association.
In the order,
Israel said the PRC was closely affiliated with Hamas and involved in
“initiating and organizing violent activity against Israel in Europe while
delegitimizing Israel’s status as a nation among the European
“The Israeli government has not raised with the Foreign
Office any concerns regarding the Palestinian Returns Centre,” a spokesman told
The Foreign Office said that if the government of Israel were
to bring up the issue with Britain, it would certainly investigate.
they [Israel] were to raise their concerns or pass any evidence to us of illegal
activity, we would of course look into the issue, working with the relevant
authorities in the UK,” it said.
Israel also said that among other
terror-related activities, the PRC organizes many conferences in various
European countries for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood activists from around the
world, along with active members of the center.
According to Israel, “the
participants mostly include Hamas fundraising representatives in Europe, and
even representatives of the Hamas organization from the Gaza Strip. The PRC
officially declares its sole mission as being a means of promoting the issue of
However in reality, the center functions as Hamas’s
organizational branch in Europe and its members are senior Hamas leaders who
promote the movement’s agenda in Europe, and directly interact with various
Hamas leaders, particularly from Damascus.”
On Saturday, the University
of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is set to host an
anti-Israel conference organized by the PRC.
A host of anti-Israel
activists will be taking part in the one-day conference, titled “The Ongoing
The university told the Post
that the PRC was able
to use the school’s facilities, as it was not a “proscribed organization.” The
SOAS also highlighted that Israel had not raised the issue with the British
“SOAS has spoken with the Foreign Office about the PRC, and
we understand that the Israeli government has not raised any concerns with them
regarding this organization, nor is it listed as a proscribed organization by
the Home Office,” the school said in a statement.
“SOAS is a popular
conference venue for a range of organizations, including government agencies,
other universities, not-for- profit groups and professional development
providers,” it continued. “Those holding events at SOAS must follow the correct
booking procedures and abide by the school’s strict code of conduct. SOAS does
not tolerate hate speech or incitement to violence of any kind.”
Institute, a Tel Avivbased research and strategy organization that advises the
government, has recommended that Israel lead a campaign to expose the Hamas
presence in London – to “out, name and shame” leaders of campaigns that
undermine the Jewish state’s existence by exposing their backgrounds and
Eran Shayshon, a senior analyst at Reut, told the Post
Thursday that the PRC’s activity in London contributed dramatically to London’s
status as a key delegitimization hub – a matter the institute highlighted in a
major report it published in November, reiterating that the PRC was a
Hamas-affiliated organization central also to Muslim Brotherhood operations in
“The result of this activity is that the Hamas narrative has made
significant inroads in mainstreaming itself within the London Muslim community,”
“A further result is that in the eyes of some elements within
Britain’s liberal elite, Hamas represents the sole authentic and legitimate
Palestinian representative – as may also be indicated by the fact that a
university in London hosts their event,” Shayshon added.
Israel, the PRC’s leaders include prominent Hamas activists such as Majed
al-Zeer, Zaher Birawi and Majdi Akeel.
“Another activist, Assan Paur,
also serves as a member of the Interpal Board of Trustees, also deemed a
terrorist organization by Israel and the US on account of its direct involvement
with Hamas global funding,” the order claimed.
Israel also claimed that
the PRC was a leading contributor to a group called the European Campaign for
Ending the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), and had been involved in transporting one of
its main activists, Arafar Madi, to plan the violent confrontation on the Mavi
Marmara ship during the Gaza flotilla incident in May.
“They had worked
in cooperation with the IHH Foundation in Turkey, as well as other Hamas
fundraising bodies within Europe and around the world,” the order
Based in northwest London, the PRC was established in 1996 by
Palestinian academic Salman Abu-Sitta. According to a report published by the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last month, titled “Mapping the
Organizational Sources of the Global Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel in
the UK,” Abu-Sitta often equates Israel with Nazis and asserts that the
“Palestinian Holocaust is unsurpassed in history.”
The report, written by
Bar- Ilan University academic Ehud Rosen, identifies five of the PRC’s trustees
– Zeer, Birawi, Akeel, Arafat Shukri and Ghassan Fa’war – as having a “clear”
Muslim Brotherhood background.
At its London conference in 2009, the PRC
invited MEP Kristina Morvai, leader of the far-Right Hungarian nationalist party
Jobbik and ally of British Nationalist Party leader Nick Griffin.
of that year, Haaretz quoted Morvai as saying: “I would be glad if the so-called
proud Hungarian Jews would go back to playing with their tiny little circumcised
tail rather than vilifying me.”