Palestinian Return Centre (PRC)
|In their own words|| An “independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of the Palestinian Refugees.”|
- The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) does not publish donors or financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability. According to its website, PRC “depends primarily on donations from people who believe in its cause” and “accepts contributions in money and kind from any source as long as there are no strings or conditions attached.”
- Claims to “offer expert advice to various actors and agencies on the question of Palestinian Refugees within the context of the Nakba…and serves as an information repository on other related aspects of the Palestine question and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It specializes in the research, analysis, and monitor of issues pertaining to the dispersed Palestinians and their internationally recognized legal right to return.”
- Aims include: to “highlight the issue of the right of return both as a humanitarian and political concern”; “[e]stablish historical accounts of the plight of the refugees and offer realistic strategic solutions in addressing their plight”; “increase and widen awareness of the suffering of the Palestinians in the Diaspora”; “inform the general public in Europe and Britain in particular, the truth on the many different dimensions of the Palestinian issue”; and “establish the status of Palestinian refugees under international law without any equivocation, and campaign for their basic human and legal rights.”
- The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) regularly lobbies the British Parliament, the United Nations, and other international forums, disseminating demonizing information and contributing to the international delegitimization of Israel.
Connections to Hamas
- On December 27, 2010, then Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared PRC an “unlawful association” due to its alleged association with Hamas. According to the Israeli Security Agency, PRC “is involved in initiating and organizing radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while de-legitimizing Israel’s status as a nation among the European community.”
- A 2011 intelligence service report of the German Ministry of the Interior found that “Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Center in London as a forum.”
- According to a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, PRC is headed by a number of Hamas activists, including: Zaher al- Birawi, Majed al-Zeer, Sheikh Majdi Akeel. Ghassan Faour, and Arafat Madi Shukri. According to the report, PRC also has affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Zaher al- Birawi, chairman of PRC’s board of trustees, was active in dispatching convoys to Gaza though former British MP George Galloway’s organization, Viva Palestina. Birawi is also a member of the executive committee of the Global March on Jerusalem, which seeks to “demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.”
- Sheikh Majdi Akeel, member of PRC’s board of trustees, is also an activist of Interpal, which sends money to Hamas. Interpal is a designated terror organization by the United States. Ghassan Faour is also on Interpal’s board of trustees.
- Arafat Madi Shukri, PRC executive director, is chairman of the ECESG, a European umbrella organization that sends flotillas to Gaza.
- According to a report in The Telegraph, PRC “has regularly hosted Palestinian leaders, including [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh, at its annual conferences.”
- PRC denies Hamas affiliations, claiming that such allegations are “false and unfounded” and “either funded by the government of Israel or funded by the many pro Israeli lobby groups worldwide.” On June 3, 2015, PRC threatened legal action against the Israeli government over allegations of Hamas affiliations.
- On June 1, 2015, the NGO committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted PRC “observer” status at the UN. According to UN Watch, “NGO status would allow representatives of the Hamas-linked PRC to acquire official UN badges, full access to UN facilities and participation in debates in New York, Geneva, and Vienna, and, perhaps most significantly, global legitimacy.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh reportedly called PRC to congratulate it on its new status. PRC is also a member of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP).
- Activities focus on actualizing a Palestinian “right of return,” which, if implemented, would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- Accuses Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “massacres,” “flagrant violation[s] of international law,” “Judaization,” refers to the establishment of the state of Israel as a “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” and promotes anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaigns.
- PRC holds an annual “Palestinians in Europe” conference aimed at delegitimizing Israel. The meetings are for coordinating campaigns, such as calling for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, including those who have been arrested for terrorist attacks.
- Following the 2018 conference, the conference organizers stated they “appreciate the role that international institutions play through boycotting campaigns, and we call for expanding such a movement.”
- Prior to the 2017 conference, several groups petitioned the mayor of Rotterdam, asking that he ban the conference on the grounds that the group is affiliated with Hamas and will likely promote antisemitic rhetoric.
- PRC has lobbied intensively in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. PRC has submitted numerous statements to the UN calling for the database to be “implemented without further delays.” According to PRC, “the UN’s failure to speak out against trade with settlements misleads consumers worldwide and hinders ongoing efforts to retrieve Palestinians’ inalienable rights.”
- In July 2020, PRC supported a “day of action” against Israeli annexation and called for people to pressure the UK government to “take action in response to Israel’s annexation move through the enactment of sanctions.”
- In February 2020, PRC spoke at the UN Human Rights Council calling for “member states to consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze, on those identified by UN as responsible for war crimes.”
- In January 2020, following the release of President Trump’s “Peace Plan,” PRC published a press release referring to it as an “endorsement of Israeli apartheid, military occupation and settler colonialism.” PRC added that the “proposal’s suggestions on how to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees, completely absolves Israel of any responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” (emphasis added).
- In July 2019, PRC was listed as an official supporter of the 2019 Palestine Expo which served as a platform for organizers and participants to espouse anti-Israel rhetoric and antisemitism, and promote BDS, demonization, and delegitimization campaigns.
- In July 2019, during a debate at the UN Human Rights Council, PRC referred to Israeli “apartheid like practices” and called on the international community to “end support or collaboration with Israeli apartheid.”
- In September 2018, PRC held a side event at the UN Human Rights Council titled “Legalising Apartheid” focusing on Israel’s nation-state law that, according to the organizers, “has entrenched within its ruling system key elements of apartheid.”
- In May 2018, PRC hosted a meeting in Parliament titled “Ongoing Nakba at 70: Palestinians Demand Right of Return” featuring journalist Ben White, who “urged immediate action in solidarity with the Palestinians being brutalised at the hands of Israeli forces in Gaza, including through an arms embargo and support for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign.”
- In April 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, PRC launched a “large-scale correspondence campaign,” sending letters to 42 member states of the Human Rights Council and 600 British MPs explaining “the crimes committed by the Israeli authorities against peaceful demonstrators.” PRC further called for the Human Rights Council to “consider accountability measures against Israel and to send an independent fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli crimes against Palestinians.” PRC ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- In February 2018, PRC held a seminar in the British Parliament on the “historical bonds between Palestine and Ireland.” At the seminar, one of the speakers explained “the way people around the world should tackle the legacy of the Balfour Declaration, called on fighting Israeli apartheid with a tactic that Balfour tried to outlaw: the tactic of boycott.”
- In June 2017, PRC met with Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories, to “discuss his mandate and new reports.”
- In March 2017, PRC lauded the UN ESCWA report on the “Question of Apartheid,” stating that the report is “a sign of the inherently illegitimate nature of the Israeli practices against the Palestinians” and called to “bring such racist practices to a halt and to impeach those held accountable before international courts.”
- In an October 2016 meeting at the House of Lords, PRC launched the “Balfour Apology Campaign,” calling on the UK to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration that expressed support for a Jewish national home. Baroness Jenny Tonge, known for antisemitic remarks such as blaming Jews and Israel for antisemitism, chaired the proceedings. During the event, a speaker blamed a “heretic” rabbi for “antagoniz[ing]” Hitler and making him “want to systematically kill Jews wherever he could find them as opposed to just make Germany a Jew-free land.”
- PRC published a petition on the UK Parliament website that calls “on Her Majesty’s Government to openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”
- PRC is listed as an “Endorser” of the Free Palestine Movement, founded by Paul Larudee, whose extremism includes the promotion of antisemitic themes, rationalization and justification of terrorism, and meeting with and receiving a medal of honor from leaders of Hamas. Larudee has written of Jewish/Zionist “control” over U.S. “media” and “government.”
- In December 2013, published a article quoting recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature Jose Saramago, who claimed: “The repression from Israel is the worst form of Apartheid. Nobody has the faintest idea of what is going on here, even the best informed people. Everything is in pieces, the land is destroyed and nothing else may be planted. All this smells like a boot camp, like Auschwitz. The israeli have turned into NAZI JEWS” [sic] (emphasis added). PRC stated, “[h]e is correct,” alleging “Zionist terror,” “brutality of the Israeli Army and the heartlessness of its soldiers who seem to have a thirst for blood,” and “ongoing genocide on Palestine” (sic).
- Published a 2012 book, Understanding the Nakba: An Insight into the Plight of the Palestinians, which “describes constant features of the Nakba including, the plight of refugees, culture of impunity, history of denial, propensity for violence” and argues that the “disappearance of Palestine… was not a random outcome but the inevitable consequence of implementing a racism colonial ideology.”
- Participated in the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia, which became a platform for intense anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, PRC’s concluding summary included a call to adopt BDS against Israel as well as a policy of complete isolation of Israel as an “apartheid state.” PRC activists participated in a forum on refugees and displaced persons, distributed maps of Arab villages destroyed in 1948, and flyers headlined “Why Zionism equals racism.”
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