Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 6 News List

EU court calls for removal of Hamas from terror list

‘APPEASEMENT’:An EU vote in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood also enraged Israel, which said Europe has not learned its lesson from the Holocaust

NY Times News Service and AP, LONDON and JERUSALEM

Members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, on Sunday descend while being harnessed to zip lines as smoke engulfs a building during a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas’ founding in Gaza City.

Photo: Reuters

Strains between Israel and parts of Europe intensified on Wednesday when the EU’s second-highest court reversed the bloc’s designation of the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The court’s decision coincided with increasing European impatience with the stalled effort toward peace in the Middle East, which has fed a swell of opinion in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state.

In a compromise resolution, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted 498-88 with 111 abstentions to support “in principle the recognition of Palestinian statehood” in tandem with revived peace negotiations, according to the parliament’s Web site.

In Geneva, Switzerland, a Palestinian statement at a conference on the Geneva Conventions accused Israel of flouting international law in many areas.

“The prolonged military occupation of Palestine must end, as it is the source of the pervasive violations of international humanitarian law in occupied Palestine,” the statement said.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has been on the European list of terrorist organizations since 2001. It has always objected to the classification.

The General Court of the EU ruled on Wednesday that Hamas’ status had been determined by news and Internet reports, rather than by “acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities.”

However, at the same time, the judicial body said that European restrictions on Hamas, such as asset freezes, should remain in force for at least three months to give the parties time to appeal.

Decisions by the court may be appealed on points of law to the bloc’s highest judicial body, the Court of Justice of the EU.

The developments incensed many Israelis, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for the court to restore the “terrorist group” label to Hamas.

At a gathering with foreign journalists on Wednesday evening in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the various moves “point to a spirit of appeasement in Europe of the very forces that threaten Europe itself.”

“Too many in Europe are calling on Israel to make concessions that would endanger not only the security of Israel, but also paradoxically the security of Europe itself, because Israel is the forward position of European civilization. Israel is the bulwark of European values,” he said.

Of the wave of parliamentary resolutions recognizing Palestine as a state, Netanyahu said: “These declarations merely reinforce Palestinian intransigence, pushing peace further away.”

In criticizing the European measures, Netanyahu also invoked the memory of the Holocaust.

“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil 6 million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing,” he said. “But we in Israel, we’ve learned. We’ll continue to defend our people and our state against the forces of terror and tyranny and hypocrisy.”

The office of Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader, said in a statement that the General Court’s decision was “a victory for all supporters of the right of our people in the resistance, and all supporters of the liberation against occupation.”

The EU issued a statement calling the court’s decision “procedural” rather than substantive, and said it was studying the ruling and would decide later whether to appeal.

“It is a legal ruling of a court, not a political decision taken by the EU governments,” the statement said.

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