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Israel is blocking Palestinian activists 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 that Israel last year designated a terrorist organization. Israeli officials declined to comment on the entry 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 he was stopped by Israeli officials at the crossing to Jordan.

‘I was told I have a ban on traveling. I asked why I am banned from traveling. They said they did not want to inform me, ”he said. Aboudi, who is a U.S. citizen, said he traveled to Jordan just a month earlier with no problems.

The Bisan Center for Research and Development is a non-profit organization that says it is committed to promoting a Palestinian community based on “freedom, justice, equality and dignity.” Aboudi has previously been arrested by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which controls autonomous territories in 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 on Israelis. The PFLP is considered a terrorist group by Israel and its Western allies.

But Israel has provided very little evidence to support its claims against the six groups. The groups all continue to operate, although Israeli repression 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 harsh treatment of Palestinians over the years.

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

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