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

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

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

The Bisan Center for Research and Development is a nonprofit 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 both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous areas of the occupied West Bank, for his political activities.

Bisan is one of six Palestinian human rights groups that Israel outlawed last year after designating them as terrorist organizations.

Israel says the groups have links 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. All groups continue to operate, although the Israeli crackdown has worried international donors and caused some to cut ties.

Aboudi says he has no ties to the PFLP. Activists have said the Israeli move is an attempt to silence groups that have documented the harsh treatment 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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