The European Union still considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, a spokeswoman for the EU said today. The clarification follows yesterday’s ruling by the EU’s second-highest court that Hamas’ designation as a terror group in 2001 did not follow the proper procedures. The statement was reported by Agence France-Presse.
“The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organisation,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said, adding that the EU would consider its response to the court’s ruling, including the possibility of an appeal.
According to Reuters,the EU can now appeal the decision:
[The court] added that if an appeal was brought before the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice, the freeze of Hamas funds should continue until the legal process was complete.
Appeals, which can only be based on points of law, typically last about a year and a half.
The EU’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told Israel’s Army Radio, “Sometimes the courts come to decisions which surprise us. We need to assemble a stronger case for the listing and this is what we are going to do.”
In anticipation of the court ruling, Matthew Levitt, director of The Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, wrote an analysis yesterday on the points of law the court was considering and a possible resolution.
While many European diplomats resent the designation of Hamas, pointing to the group’s dominance of the Gaza Strip and its centrality to regional events, the EU will likely work assiduously to reinstate the designation for two reasons: first, to protect its designation regime from further legal challenges and defend the Council’s original ban on Hamas, and second, to prevent an inherently apolitical, independent judicial action from damaging the prospects for peace and stability in the Middle East. …
The good news is that a plethora of Hamas criminal cases have been opened within EU member states over the past few years, providing plentiful information derived from strictly European sources regarding the group’s terrorist nature. Indeed, EU authorities have been working closely with Israel to counter the burgeoning Hamas fundraising network that has been taking root in Europe despite the EU ban … Those investigations should now serve as the basis for a renewed terrorist designation of Hamas.
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