EU 'Still Considers Hamas a Terrorist Group'

European Commission says despite Hamas's temporary removal from EU terrorism blacklist, it is still being regarded as a terrorist org.

Ari Soffer ,

Hamas terrorists in Gaza parade
Hamas terrorists in Gaza parade
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

The EU said Wednesday it still considers Hamas to be a "terrorist" group even though a European court ruled that it should be temporarily removed from the bloc's terrorism blacklist.

"The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organisation," European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said, adding that the EU would consider its response to the court's ruling, including the possibility of an appeal.

It follows a storm of controversy surrounding the decision by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to order Hamas's removal from the list due to a legal technicality. Lawyers for Hamas successfully petitioned the court on the grounds that the Islamist group's inclusion on the list was based on "factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet" as opposed to sound legal judgments.

But in accepting that arguments, the court stressed that Wednesday's decision was based on technical grounds and does "not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group."

Indeed, Hamas's assets will remain frozen despite the ruling, and lawyers are expected to present a fresh case for Hamas's re-inclusion.

Some European countries have already started gathering intelligence information to build a strong case against Hamas, and Israel has a Foreign Ministry department which focuses on the issue and has incriminating evidence against Hamas and Hezbollah.

The decision to remove Hamas from the list drew angry responses from Israel, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"We are not satisfied with EU explanations that the removal of Hamas from the terror organization list is a 'technical matter,'" Netanyahu challenged.

"The burden of proof is on the EU and we expected them to immediately return Hamas to the list as everyone understands that it is an inseparable part of it - Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization that notes in its charter that its goal is to destroy Israel," he added. "We will continue to struggle against it firmly and with strength so that it will never achieve its goals."