Judges at the European Court of Justice on Wednesday overruled the General Court’s view of 2014 that the 28-nation bloc has insufficient evidence to maintain asset freezes and travel bans on Hamas.
The lower court found that the listing was based on media and Internet reports rather than on solid legal arguments.
However, the court said that a decision by a competent authority was only required for an initial listing, with no such condition for subsequent retention.
The listing is important because it keeps various Hamas funds frozen, limits Hamas from openly doing business in the EU and limits the mobility of Hamas-affiliated persons.
Some observers were surprised at the decision, because although the US lists Hamas as a terrorist organization, the lower court ruling from 2014 had dealt a blow to the EU’s doing so. The EU, which is on record as wanting to continue to list Hamas as a terrorist group, had appealed that ruling in hopes of a different result.
Wednesday’s decision reverses that earlier court order to the EU executive branch to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist groups.
EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen and some top Israeli officials had expected the European Court of Justice to uphold the lower court ruling of three years ago.
Faaborg-Andersen said that “the EU welcomes” the decision, which meant there “would be no need to take further action.”
Hamas has already filed a new case against the EU listing it as a terrorist group for the years 2015-2017, and Faaborg-Andersen said, “We will see if the pending litigation by Hamas challenging the 2015-2017 listing will go forward or not.”Reuters contributed to this report.