EU removes Hamas from terrorist list
BRUSSELS // A European Union court has ordered for Hamas to be removed from the EU terrorist list for procedural reasons.
It said the EU can maintain asset freezes against Hamas members for now, however.
The Islamist group hailed Wednesday’s decision, while Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, urged the EU to reverse it.
The terrorist list designation currently bars EU officials from dealing with Hamas, and requires that any of the group’s funds in EU countries be frozen.
Hamas was put on the list in 2001 as part of broader measures to fight terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
But the EU court ruled that its listing was based on press and internet reports and not on “acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities.”
The court insisted that its ruling did not “imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” It therefore ruled that the asset freezes should stay in place for three months pending further EU actions.
The EU now has two months to appeal the ruling, and is considering its next steps.
Hamas, which won elections in 2006 and now runs Gaza, has long contested its place on the terrorist list.
Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the court’s decision was a “strong, good shift” that would ultimately lead to European action against Israel.
* Associated Press