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Israel: London is home to Hamas hub

Dec. 28, 2010 5:08 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2010 10:01 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's defense ministry has accused a London-based Palestinian center of "terror-affiliated activities" and being the organizational arm of the militant Islamic Hamas movement in Europe.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and advocates violent opposition to the Jewish state, is designated by the European Union as a terrorist organization.

An Israeli defense ministry statement issued on Tuesday said that the Palestinian Return Centre in Ealing, north London, organizes conferences in Europe at which it plays taped speeches by Hamas leaders who are banned from entering the EU.

"The centre is involved in initiating and organising radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while delegitimising Israel's status as a nation among the European community," the statement said.

"Among other terror-affiliated activities, the centre organises many conferences in various European countries for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood activists from all around the world," it added.

On its website, the center describes itself as "an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of the Palestinian Refugees."

Israel however, says it is is "part of the broader Hamas activism and support network within Europe, which is especially strong in England."

Tuesday's statement said that earlier this month Defense Minister Ehud Barak signed a decree declaring the London center "an association illegal in Israel."

A ministry spokeswoman was unable to explain to AFP what the practical implications of that decree were, and whether Israel would seek a similar designation of the group from the British government.
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