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The annex of Hamas in Israel, the Reform and Change party, was declared illegal earlier this week. The decision, which comes more than a year after Hamas won the parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority, was announced in the official government gazette, Reshumot.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who signed the original order banning the party on February 20, says he was "convinced that the Reform and Change party, or as it is know by its Arabic name, al-Aslah u' al-Ta'ayer, has for some time been part of Hamas. I henceforth declare that this organization, by whatever name it may appear, including its branches and support groups, is an unrecognized association, in the terms set by the emergency orders."

The order also requires that any individual holding property belonging to the party should inform the Defense Ministry, through the services of the senior deputy comptroller of the Finance Ministry, Arnon Eikan.

Peretz signed two other orders, against the Al-Afeq organization in Ramallah and the Mrah Rubah charity association, based in a village near Bethlehem. Both groups were declared illegal.

The two organizations are suspected of being fronts for Palestinian terrorist organizations in the West Bank.