Israeli media reported last month that the Israeli Defense Minister has outlawed the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) calling it Hamas’ leading organization in Europe. According to the Haaretz report:
December 13, 2013 Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has outlawed the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) – a Belgian non-profit organization that serves as Hamas’ representative in Europe. Members of the organization include four European MPs, who are now in danger of arrest if they land at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The director of the NGO is Dr. Arafat Shoukri, a resident of London who has been active for many years in various organizations working against the State of Israel, and was one of the leaders of the campaign calling for the lifting of the siege against Gaza.
The organization is registered in Belgium and acts as a lobby for the Gaza government in the European Union. It is also registered in the EU offices in the framework of the convention to increase transparency. On its website the organization claims that it ‘is working to improve the dialogue between Europe and the Arab world, with the objective of restoring Palestinian rights in accordance with international law, as part a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’
In the past three years the CEPR has organized six delegations of European MPs, who visited Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. In 2010 Shoukri met with the then-chairman of the EU Parliament.
Two weeks ago Ya’alon declared the group ‘an outlawed organization,’ based on the emergency defense regulations. That means that Israel can confiscate money related to the organization and try its members or those who provide them with services. In the past Israel has declared isolated European groups illegal, but still this is an unusual declaration.
Also outlawed was a Norwegian NGO called European Empowerment Services and the European Campaign to Remove the Siege Against the Gaza Strip, which as far as we know is a media name only, without any real organization behind it.
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The GMBDW and its predecessor publication appear to have the only publications to have been reporting on the CEPR beginning in March 2012 when we identified its close ties to Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW also notes that the Haaretz characterization of the European Campaign to Remove the Siege Against the Gaza Strip (ECESG) as a “media name only” is a serious error. Israeli analyst Ehud Rosen has reported extensively on the ECESG in addition to the GMBDW posts on the subject.
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) describes itself as:
…an independent not-for-profit organisation which has been established to promote dialogue and understanding between European, Palestinian and Arab parliamentarians and policy-makers. It seeks a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on justice and the restoration of Palestinian rights in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
The CEPR appears to operate largely as a pro-Hamas lobbying group at the EU and has accompanied EU lawmakers on trips to Gaza. In March 2013, the CEPR announced it had met with an EU commissioner to discuss a recent mission to Lebanon and Palestinian refugees from Syria. The CEPR announced the same month that was hosting a European parliamentary delegation that would attempt to visit Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons. Dr. Arafat Shoukri, the CEPR Executive Director, was at one time the Executive Director of the U.K. based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) which is closely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. He is also the chairman of the European Campaign To End the Siege in Gaza (ECESG), a group whose telephone numbers and address are the same as the PRC and which has also has extensive ties to Hamas and the UK and Global Muslim Brotherhood. The ECESG was a major sponsor of the abortive second Gaza Flotilla that was intended to aid Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Several of the CEPR trustees are also part of the Global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas. Anouar Gharbi (aka Anwar al-Gharbi) now serving as Foreign Affairs Adviser of the President of Tunisia, was also a founding member of the ECESG, identified above as close to both the PRC and to the the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and Mr. Gharbi was one of the coordinators for the 2nd Gaza Flotilla. Mr Gharbi has also been an officer of the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP) in Switzerland, the Swiss member of the Union of Good (UOG), a coalition of charities headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi which helps to raise funds for Hamas. In addition, Mr. Gharbi is a founding member and former President, now Honorary President of, Droit pour Tous (Rights for All) a Swiss-based NOG that describes itself as a human rights organization but actually functions as a Palestinian advocacy group and isi one of the members of the ECESG. CEPR Trustee Mazen Kahel is originally from Gaza and holds a PhD in business management. He has also known to have been the Treasurer of the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), the French member of the UOG and which was designated by the US in 2003 as a terrorist entity. CBSP is also considered to be a partner entity of the ASP, the Swiss UOG organization discussed above.