The European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed yesterday (26 July) that the EU’s decision to blacklist the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas onto its terrorist list is justified. The EU’s top court overturned a 2014 ruling of the bloc’s second highest court, saying that it “should not have annulled Hamas’ retention on the European list of terrorist organizations”.
The earlier decision to drop Hamas from the terrorist blacklist triggered outrage in the United States and Israel because, as both countries argue, Brussels had made the decision based on the information from the Internet and the media. However, the ECJ ruled now that the General Court had “made an error in law”, making it scrutinize the case again. In a separate case, the ECJ said that the General Court’s 2014 ruling that Sri Lankan rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) should not be blacklisted was justified.
The new Hamas decision is surprising since one of the ECJ’s senior lawyers had shared an opinion piece in autumn last year that Hamas should not have been blacklisted. Since the court rules against the advice of its top lawyers only occasionally, the new ruling was unexpected but at the same time welcome from the standpoint of the tense EU-Israel relations. The Israeli government is overall unhappy about the EU’s soft approach on terrorism and rejects Brussels’ accusations of its Jewish settlement policy. The European Jewish Congress (EJC) commented that the ruling was “an important political message in the fight against international terror.”