The European Court of Justice ordered on Wednesday (17 September) that Hamas be removed from the EU blacklist of terrorist organizations giving member states three months to submit evidence to review the ruling. The court stated that the original listing of Hamas, the group governing the Palestinian territory of Gaza, could not be legally justified as it was mostly based on reports from the media and internet. In contrast, the Luxembourg-based court said that yesterday’s decision did “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group”. The court nevertheless added that it was keeping the effects of the measures in place to guarantee that eventual future freezing of funds would be effective. The decision follows the earlier adoption of a resolution in favour of the recognition of the state of Palestine by the European Parliament.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic organization with an associated military wing, was added to the EU’s list of terrorist groups in 2003 following lobbying by Israel and the United States. Hamas’ charter proclaims the commitment of the organization to destroy the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The organization is banned in Jordan and listed as terrorist in the United States, Australia, Canada, Israel, and Japan. The United Kingdom has proscribed the military wing but has not labelled the entire organization as terrorist. In contrast, Hamas is not considered a terrorist organization in most Arab countries, China, Russia, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. However, the court’s decision to remove Hamas from the blacklist did not surprise as the EU’s top court decided to remove also the Sri Lankan terror group, the Tamil Tigers, from the blacklist. The court used the same grounds in both cases “a lack of legal evidence to brand them terror organizations”.