U.N. Grants Hamas-Linked Group NGO Status

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -

Israel has accused a U.N. committee that oversees non-governmental organizations of granting accreditation to an association that it says promotes “anti-Israel propaganda in Europe” and is linked to Hamas.

Israel’s mission to the United Nations issued a statement condemning the decision, by the 19-member U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, to approve the application of the Palestinian Return Center (PRC), an organization based in Britain. The PRC denied having ties to Hamas and accused Israel of trying to “distort and mislead the committee member states.”

The Israeli statement said it banned the PRC in 2010 because of its ties to Hamas, labeling it “an organizational and a coordinating wing of Hamas in Europe” with members that include senior Hamas officials.

“Until today, the U.N. has given Hamas discounts and let it strengthen its activities,” Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, said in the statement. “Now, the U.N. went one step further and gave Hamas a welcoming celebration at its main entrance, allowing it to be a full participant.”

Some 12 countries voted in favor, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela, China and Cuba, while three voted against — the United States, Uruguay and Israel. India, Russia and Greece abstained, and Burundi was absent.