Israel blocks Palestinian activist from traveling abroad

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JERUSALEM — Israel has prevented the director of a Palestinian civil society group from traveling abroad to attend a professional conference in Mexico.

Ubai Aboudi is the leader of Bisan, one of six Palestinian groups Israel designated as a terrorist organization last year. Israeli officials declined to comment on the travel ban.

In an interview, Aboudi said he attempted to leave the occupied West Bank last week in order to attend the World Social Forum, an annual gathering of civil society groups taking place in Mexico this year. But he said he was stopped by Israeli officials at the crossing point into Jordan.

“I was informed that I was prohibited from travelling. I asked why I am forbidden to travel. They said they didn’t want to inform me,” he said. Aboudi, who is an American citizen, said that just a month earlier he had traveled to Jordan without any problems.

The Bisan Center for Research and Development is a non-profit organization that claims to be committed to promoting a Palestinian society based on “freedom, justice, equality and dignity”. Aboudi has been arrested in the past by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which administers the autonomous areas of the occupied West Bank, for his political activities.

Bisan is among six Palestinian human rights groups that Israel effectively banned last year after designating them as terrorist organizations.

Israel says the groups have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a small Palestinian faction with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. The PFLP is considered a terrorist group by Israel and its Western allies.

But Israel has provided little evidence to support its claims against the six groups. The groups all continue to operate, although the Israeli crackdown has worried international donors and prompted some to cut ties.

Aboudi says he has no connection with the PFLP. Activists said the Israeli move is an attempt to silence groups that have documented mistreatment of Palestinians over the years.

“There is no explanation for what happened to me except that it was an attempt to silence the Palestinian voice,” Aboudi said.

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