Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday decried the decision by the European Union to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations, while expressing appreciation to the United States for what he called a “true friendship.” Netanyahu contrasted the two relationships at a meeting with Senator-elect Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is in Israel on a visit.
"The friendship of the people of the United States of America with Israel stands in sharp contrast with what we see unfortunately in Europe,” Netanyahu said. “In Geneva they call for the investigation of Israel for war crimes, while in Luxemburg the European Court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations, the same Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts.”
The reclassification of Hamas came Wednesday after the terror group filed an appeal asking that it be removed from the EU's terrorist group list – a decision the the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg agreed to, based on Hamas' arguments hat the group's inclusion on the list was against EU procedures and without sufficient evidence.
The court said in a statement that Hamas's inclusion was based on "factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet" as opposed to sound legal judgments. But it 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." A lawyer for Hamas, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was “satisfied with the decision.”
“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing. But we in Israel, we have learned,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to defend our people and our state against the forces of terror, tyranny and hypocrisy.”
The controversial decision was followed just hours later by an equally controversial vote at the European Parliament in favor of recognizing "Palestine" as a state.
Lawmakers approved the motion by 498 votes to 88 with 111 abstentions, although it was a watered down version of an original motion which had urged EU member states to recognize a Palestinian state unconditionally.
Shortly after, MPs in the tiny European state of Luxembourg similarly voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian Arab state.