Pro-Israel critics claim Hamas front group nearing coveted UN status

A pro-Palestinian group critics describe as a front for Hamas is set to win key status from a UN panel stacked with anti-Israel human rights violators, according to a watchdog group.

The UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, a 19-member panel that includes Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia and China, was to vote on granting “observer” status to the Palestinian Return Centre. The designation would allow the group to acquire official UN badges, full access to UN facilities and to participate in debates in New York, Geneva and Vienna.

“Despite its pose as pro-Palestinian human rights group, the PRC is one of the few Palestinian advocacy groups to have been banned by Israel, on account of its deep entanglement with top leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization based in Gaza and abroad,” UN Watch said in a news release.

The UK-based group was established in 1996 and claims its mission is to offer “expert advice to various actors and agencies on the question of Palestinian Refugees within the context of the Nakba - The catastrophe following the forced displacement of Palestinians in 1948.”

UN Watch claims the group has regularly hosted Palestinian officials, including Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, at its annual conferences and has strong ties to top Hamas officials.

PRC’s alleged ties to Hamas were detailed in an 80-page report by the Israeli-based research institute Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The study, which included photos of PRC leaders with Hamas officials, called the PRC a propaganda arm of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Its foundation was based on rejection of the Oslo Accords, a strong denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist and the concept of the "right" of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to the places abandoned in 1948, all to be used as tools to fight Israel and the peace process,” the report said.