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Dutch City Allows Pro-Hamas Event — Bans Protest

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — In an unusual rebuke, Israel’s embassy in the Netherlands expressed “great concern” over the hosting in Rotterdam of an event organized by Hamas supporters.

The embassy published the statement Friday ahead of Saturday’s gathering of several hundred people at a conference titled “Palestinians in Europe,” which the embassy said was a front for Hamas.

Authorities had denied a request by pro-Israel activists to march in Rotterdam Saturday in protest of the gathering, which was organized by the Palestinian Return Center, or PRC, Het Paroool daily reported.

Israel outlawed PRC for its alleged affiliations with Hamas in 2010. A 2011 report by the German Ministry of the Interior stated that ““Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Center in London as a forum.”

The European Union blacklisted Hamas and regards it as an illegal terrorist group.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Labor politician who was born in Morocco to a Muslim family and has spoken harshly against anti-Semitism, declined requests by representatives of the Jewish community to ban the gathering. He said the Dutch National Coordination Board for Counterterrorism and Security authorized the event, though a board spokesperson denied this.

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