Hamas may be removed from EU terror list
In something of a shocker, the European High Court in Luxembourg ruled that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas shouldn't be on the EU list of organizations that commit terrorist acts because their inclusion was based “on factual imputations derived from the press and Internet.” It's a technicality that might force the EU to remove Hamas from the terrorist list.
“Removing Hamas from the terrorism blacklist is a victory for the Palestinian people,” Musa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in an e-mail. “Hamas calls on all those who put us on this list to correct their stance, because doing so has always been unfair.”
The ruling was met with anger in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the court shouldn’t be able to take Hamas from the terrorist list because of a technicality.
“We are not satisfied by the explanation offered by the Europeans that the removal of Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations is due to a procedural issue,” Netanyahu said in an e-mailed statement. “The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect them to immediately return Hamas to the list that everyone knows it belongs on,” Netanyahu said.
The court, however, didn’t unfreeze Hamas funds in the region, delaying the ruling for three months to give the EU a chance to appeal.
The court “stresses that those annulments, on fundamental procedural grounds, do not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group,” the court said.
Hamas was added to the EU list in 2001 and has remained on there ever since. The organization’s challenge today succeeded because the EU had failed to “concretely examine” the factual elements to justify the freezing of the funds, the court said.
“It’s important to note that this decision doesn’t represent a change in EU policy on Hamas and was only based on a procedural issue, which we hope will be corrected and the ruling overturned during the next three months,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said by phone.
The court is saying that the EU took Hamas at their word when media outlets reported that they claimed responsibility for acts of terror, and that this isn't a good enough reason to place them on the list of terrorist organizations. Apparently, Hamas threats on their various websites to kill Israelis are also an insufficient reason to blacklist them.
I suppose the EU has in mind ways to get around this technicality, so it is probable that Hamas will remain on the blacklist. But the EU's myopia about Hamas, Hezb'allah, and other terrorist groups may lead to tragedy unless they wake up.