EU court orders Hamas removal from terror list

Hamas hailed the decision describing the move as a “victory for the Palestinian question”

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The European Union’s second highest court annulled on Wednesday the bloc's decision to keep Hamas on a list of terrorist organizations, but temporarily maintained the measures for a period of three months or until an appeal was closed.

The 2001 listing of Hamas was based not on sound legal judgments but on “factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet,” a statement from the General Court of the European Union read.

The court stressed that Wednesday’s decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.”

The freeze on Hamas’s funds will also temporarily remain in place for three months pending any appeal by the EU, the Luxembourg-based court said.

Hamas’s military wing was added to the European Union’s first-ever terrorism blacklist drawn up in December 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The EU blacklisted the political wing of Hamas in 2003.

“The General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet,” the court said.

Instead, such an action had to be based on facts previously established by competent authorities. it said.

The lawyer for Hamas, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was “satisfied with the decision”.

Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the EU to keep Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations, according to Reuters news agency.

“We expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization which in its charter states its goal is to destroy Israel,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hamas hailed the decision describing the move as a “victory”.

“This is a victory for the Palestinian question and for the rights of our people,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.

“We thank the European court for this positive decision which must be followed by international steps to lift the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

[With AFP and Reuters]

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