Hamas remains on EU terror list

Hamas remains on EU terror list
Comment: European foreign ministers are fighting Israel's corner by arguing the Palestinian group should stay on the list, despite a senior court ruling, says Sahdya Darr.
3 min read
22 May, 2015
Hamas has said its 'terrorist' designation was erroneously reached, without studying the movement objectively [Getty]

At the end of last year, the General Court of the European Union, the EU's second-highest court, ruled that Hamas be removed from the EU's list of international terrorist organisations.

The controversial decision came after Hamas filed an appeal against its inclusion on the list.

The move was welcomed by the group, whose deputy political leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, described it as "a correction of a historical mistake".

Five months later, however, the group's assets continue to be frozen despite the ruling, because of an appeal made by EU officials.

In January, the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced that foreign ministers from the EU's 28 member states had decided to appeal the decision of the General Court.

Hamas called the appeal "immoral", and accused the EU of providing Israel with cover for its human rights violations against the Palestinian people.

The court acknowledged that Hamas had contested the measures imposed on it. It argued that the inclusion of Hamas on the list was based on "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet" rather than a "concrete examination" of Hamas' actions.

It emphasised that the decision to annul the placement of Hamas on the list was taken on procedural grounds, rather than on any substantive assessment of the group itself.

The EU created the list following the September 11 attacks in 2001, as part of broader measures to fight terrorism. The list is reviewed regularly.

The court freezes the assets of those on its list. Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, was immediately put on it - in 2003, its political wing was also included.

Hamas has always objected to being placed on the list, calling the decision "unjust and wrong" arguing that the decision did not follow EU procedures and was not based on sound legal evidence.

Unsurprisingly, Israel's staunchest ally, the United States, has argued that the group should not be removed from the list - and has pressured the EU to keep the status quo.

Following the court's decision in December, the US stated Hamas was still a "foreign terrorist organisation", designated as such by Washington.

The EU's General Court announced its decision just hours before the European vote to support Palestinian statehood took place.

Interestingly, the EU was reportedly going to express unconditional support for Palestinian statehood - but instead adopted a compromise resolution supporting Palestinian statehood in principle, but stopping short of immediate recognition.

One of the conditions stipulated was that recognition was accompanied by the development of peace talks.

It is anticipated that the appeal launched by the EU's member states against the court's decision will last around a year and a half - and the measures imposed on Hamas will continue during this time.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.