EU keeps Hamas on terror list, despite court ruling

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The European Union is keeping Hamas on its list of terror groups despite a controversial court decision last December ordering Brussels to remove the Islamist Palestinian group from the register.

“Hamas stays on list during Council’s appeal to December judgement,” Susanne Kiefer, a spokeswoman for the European Council said on Twitter.

Hamas’ military wing was added to the EU’s first-ever terrorism blacklist drawn up in December 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The EU then blacklisted the political wing of Hamas in 2003.

The General Court of the European Union ruled in December that the Hamas blacklisting was based not on sound legal judgments, but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet. The EU’s External Action Service said at the time the EU court’s decision taking Hamas off the EU’s terrorist list was a legal, not a political decision. The EU appealed against the judgement.  The appeal process is expected to take around a year and a half.

Israel responded angrily to the Court’s decision, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Israel was “not satisfied” with the explanations of the EU that Hamas’s removal is only a technical matter.

The EU said it continues to uphold the Quartet principles banning engagement with Hamas until it forswears terrorism, recognizes Israel, and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after deadly clashes with Fatah.

Hamas’ funds in Europe have remained frozen since the December decision.