Hamas removed from EU terrorism blacklist

Hamas removed from EU terrorism blacklist
EU court says that Hamas' listing was based on information from the press and the internet.
3 min read
17 December, 2014
Hamas was added to the EU terror blacklist in 2001 [Getty]
Hamas has been removed from a European Union terrorism blacklist that it was placed on in 2001, as the original listing was not based on sound legal judgments, a European court ruled on Wednesday.

"The contested measures are based on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities, but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," the General Court of the European Union said in a statement.

Despite the ruling, the Luxembourg-based court said that Hamas' assets would remain frozen for three months, pending any appeal by the EU.

The court also added that the decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds, and does "not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group".

Hamas was added to the EU blacklist in two phases: the military wing was added in December 2001, and the political wing in 2003.

Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas leader, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the court's decision "rectified a mistake".

"This corrects a grave historical mistake committed against the Palestinian people," Bardawil said.

The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded angrily to the EU move, labelling Hamas as a "murderous, terrorist organisation".

"We are not satisfied with the European Union's explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organisations is a 'technical matter'," Netanyahu said in a statement.

He later added that Europe has "learned nothing" from the Holocaust.

The ruling comes hours before an European Parliament vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state, after several EU parliaments, including France and Portugal, voted on the issue.

Hamas' lawyer, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was "satisified with the decision".

"Every decision since 2001 imposing restrictive measures, including on the armed wing, have been annulled. I believe that this judgment shows the whole world that [Hamas] exists and is legal," Glock said.

The EU said it was considering its response, and the European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic clarified that the 28-country organisation still considered Hamas "a terrorist organisation".


Meanwhile, Palestinian officials will move on Wednesday with a draft resolution at the UN Security Council pressuring Israel to pull out of the occupied territories, despite warnings the United States is likely to back its Israeli ally by vetoing the measure.

An initial Arab-backed text had set a deadline of two years for the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories, but France has pushed for a watered-down resolution that instead sets a timeframe for negotiations on a final settlement.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said the draft would be submitted to the Security Council after the Palestinian delegation agreed with France on a merged text.

"The draft that will be presented... is the French draft based on Palestinian observations and decisions," Malki said.

"It will be presented to the Security Council as a blueprint, and could be put to a vote 24 hours after that," he added.

Frustrated by an apparent unwillingness on the Israeli part to stop expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank or to end the occupation, Palestinian officials have increased their attempts to put pressure on Israel using diplomatic measures.

Israel is also boycotting a one-day conference being held in Switzerland on respect for international human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said that he expected a "very large participation" at the meeting, and added that "the international community must speak on the issue".

Israel has responded by accusing Switzerland of contributing to the politicisation of the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war.