EU Envoys Vow to Keep Hamas on Terrorist List

Ambassadors clarify to former justice minister Tzipi Livni that the removal of Hamas from watchlist was 'purely procedural' and did not reflect a policy change.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Hamas supporters during a rally in Gaza last August.
Hamas supporters during a rally in Gaza last August.Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

A group of European Union envoys promised on Thursday to work towards keeping Hamas on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.

The General Court of the European Union, sitting in Luxembourg, on Wednesday accepted a petition by the Palestinian organization to have itself removed from the list. Implementation of the ruling was postponed for three months to allow the EU commission or one of the EU's 28 member states to appeal the decision.

Meeting in Tel Aviv on Thursday with Hatnuah chairwoman and former justice minister Tzipi Livni, the European ambassadors concurred that Hamas should remain on the list of terrorist organizations, and agreed to act immediately to ensure that it will be kept on the list.

They clarified to Livni that the court's ruling was purely technical and procedural and did not reflect any change in the EU's position regarding Hamas. The EU, they averred, remained committed to the principles of the Quartet (a group of nations mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)

In a statement after the court's ruling, the EU said that its "institutions are studying carefully the ruling and will decide on the options open to them. They will, in due course, take appropriate remedial action, including any eventual appeal to the ruling. In case of an appeal the restrictive measures remain in place."

Hamas asserted in its petition that the decision to put it on the EU terror list was carried out without giving it an opportunity for a hearing and without sufficient evidence being presented. The court accepted the petition based on the precedent of a similar petition by the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

It ruled that most of the evidence used to put Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations was from open sources, primarily press publications. It made it clear that the ruling did not say anything substantial about the status of Hamas or the character of the organization's operations.

Speaking before the envoys' meeting with Livni on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was not satisfied with EU explanations that removing Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations was solely a technical matter.

"The burden of proof is upon the European Union, and we expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list," Netanyahu said. "Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization, which states in its charter that its goal is to destroy Israel. We will continue to fight with determination and strength so that it will never achieve its goal."

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