UN okays accreditation for Palestinian Return Centre
New York - Israel accuses the organisation is affiliated with Hamas and "openly promotes terrorism".
The United Nations approved UN accreditation on Monday for the London-based Palestinian Return Centre in a defeat for Israel which claims the organisation is affiliated with Hamas and "openly promotes terrorism".
The centre, which describes itself as an independent consultancy dedicated to find a solution for the Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law, has denied the Israeli allegations. It announced last Friday that it was starting legal action against Israel's United Nations Mission for alleged defamation.
Last month, the UN committee that accredits non-governmental organisations, or NGOs, recommended that the centre's application be approved. But Israel circulated a resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, Australia and Canada, to the committee's parent body, the 54-member Economic and Social Council known as ECOSOC, opposing the application for consultative status.
In Monday's vote, 13 countries supported Israel's resolution, 16 were opposed and 18 abstained, which meant the resolution was defeated and the application was approved.
Israel's Deputy UN Ambassador David Roet said before the vote that the centre "is not what it claims to be".
Roet said world media sources, intelligence agencies and independent researchers have cited numerous links between the centre and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. He called the centre "an essential part of the Hamas network in Europe", that recruits, radicalises and encourages operatives to take up arms against Israel.
The centre says it has been operating in Britain and Europe since 1966 and specialises "in the research, analysis, and monitor of issues pertaining to the dispersed Palestinians and their internationally recognised legal right to return". It says it has worked with different British governments and members of Parliament from all parties.
US Deputy UN Ambassador Michele Sisson said the centre only applied for consultative status a year ago and the United States has "serious concerns" about its background and activities that haven't been answered. - AP