Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a protest against the Israeli police raid on Jerusalem's al-Aksa mosque in Khan Yunis.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The European Union appears on its way to declaring that Hamas is not a terrorist organization.
An advocate-general at the European Court of Justice, whose advice is usually followed by judges, recommended on Thursday that they reject an appeal by the Council of Europe against the lower EU court’s decisions in late 2014 to remove both Hamas and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka from the sanctions list due to flawed procedures.
Advocate-General Eleanor Sharpston said that the EU governments should independently present evidence on attacks perpetrated by the groups, and that information from outside countries such as the US was not sufficient.
“The council cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the Internet,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Sharpston as saying.
Sharpton’s comments reflected a December 2014 order by the European bloc’s second-highest tribunal to strike Hamas and the Tamil Tigers from the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations.
The court had argued that the decision to include Hamas on the listing was based merely on media and Internet reports
The EU appealed
that ruling to the European Court of Justice.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon responded by saying Jerusalem was waiting for the full opinion to be released, and that Sharpston’s words were just a recommendation that does not obligate the court.
“We will wait for the ruling by the court,” he said. “We are certain that the European Union will do everything needed to keep Hamas, an active terrorist organization, on the European terrorist list.”
Israel reacted furiously in 2014 after the lower court’s initial decision, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu terming the move a “staggering” example of European “hypocrisy.”
Hamas, Netanyahu said at the time, “has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts. It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing.
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.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement soon afterward saying that the decision by the court taking Hamas off the terrorist list and freeing up its frozen funds in Europe “was clearly based on procedural grounds and did not imply any assessment by the court of the merits of designating Hamas as a terrorist organization.”
The European Court of Justice said on Thursday that its justices were beginning their deliberations on the case and there was no set date for a ruling.
The Jerusalem Post and Reuters contributed to this report.