Jordan retracts decision to freeze Hamas accounts
AMMAN - Jordan's Central Bank has retracted a day-old decision to freeze the bank accounts of six leaders of the Hamas militant group and five related charity organizations, Information Minister Nabil Al-Sharif said late Tuesday.
"The Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan Umayya Touqan has issued a new circulation canceling a previous one that instructed local banks to stop all financial dealings with some Hamas leaders and Palestinian charitable societies," Sharif was quoted as saying by the official news agency, Petra.
"The freeze of Hamas leaders' accounts was decided by the Central Bank governor without consulting the government," he added.
Before the bank's change, Sharif had told the official Petra news agency that the freezing of accounts was "for banking purposes only" and had no "political dimensions."
The bank had frozen the unnamed accounts Monday. Hamas responded Tuesday by denouncing the government for giving in to the United States, which lists the group as a terrorist organization.
In a statement faxed to AP, Hamas condemned "the fact that Jordan has become the first Arab and Muslim country to take such a step that has no justification other than implementing American dictates."
"The Islamic resistance movement Hamas expresses its great resentment and condemnation of this dangerous measure taken by the Jordanian government," said a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
The Hamas statement said the five charity organizations included in Jordan's decision offered support to Palestinian orphans, widows, martyrs' families and prisoners.
Hamas has been responsible for scores of suicide bombings in Israel, and Israel has made targeted attacks on its leaders and fugitives.
Last week, the European Union blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist group, also freezing its funds.
On Sunday, Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' Damascus-based political bureau, said the EU decision was "an aggression against the Palestinian people, rather than Hamas. It is a kind of compliance with Israel and submission to American pressures."
The EU stopped short of a U.S.-like crackdown on related charities that allegedly funnel money to the group. Its list previously had included only Hamas' military wing.