Whitening the list

The EU removed Hamas from the terror blacklist this week.

Gazans celebrate the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gazans celebrate the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With impeccable timing, the EU’s General Court this week corrected an administrative injustice that had somehow misplaced Hamas on the terrorist blacklist, while on the very same day the European Parliament passed a resolution that “in principle” recognizes Palestinian statehood.
Palestinians greeted both events with premature expressions of joy as the international community’s increasing acceptance of their cause, ignoring the court’s own statement that the delisting of Hamas was a procedural matter that would have no practical effect.
The court said its decision did “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” It had to be issued, it said, because the EU’s 2001 designation was based on media reports alone, and not as required by EU procedures.
The delisting is actually suspended for three months, during which national authorities will be able to appeal the decision by submitting the proper evidence that Hamas is a terrorist organization, so it can resume its proper place on the blacklist. During this time Hamas’s assets will remain frozen by the EU. A number of European countries have already begun to provide the proper evidence as to why Hamas should be listed as a terrorist group.
In a world struggling daily on almost every continent against the scourge of terrorism, the court’s sudden desire to tidy its bookkeeping regarding one of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations has the practical effect of endorsing terrorism and fostering its spread.
The court should probably be lauded for its commitment to procedural accuracy, but why choose to polish Hamas’s image by answering its four-year-old appeal against being on the blacklist now? Is this where the Palestinians’ diplomatic offensive – offensive indeed – is leading, not toward statehood, but to a devaluation of terrorism? Is there a judge on the court who really needs more proof that Hamas is a terrorist organization? Is the court not aware that Hamas has only recently bombarded Israel’s civilian population from the Gaza Strip with more than 4,000 rockets? Or that, in doing so, it used its own population as human shields? Or that its agents kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in June? Or that another Hamas “holy martyr” died while murdering five people in a synagogue in November? The original decision to blacklist Hamas was taken in 2003, in response to the its murder of 23 people in a bus bombing in the capital’s Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood.
For good reason, Israelis don’t suffer from a European lack of moral clarity regarding Hamas. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in response to the court’s decision, “The burden of proof is on the EU and we expect them to immediately return Hamas to the list where everyone realizes they should be. Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization whose charter says that its aim is to destroy Israel. We will continue to fight it with determination and strength so that it will never realize its aims.”
This will be a tougher fight for Israel if the court’s decision signals that Europe is reversing its long-held policy.
Elements within the EU are questioning whether Europe should continue to support the West’s policy of refusing to deal with Hamas until it recognizes Israel, abandons terrorism and abides by previously signed agreements.
A growing number of European politicians, civil servants and officials are motivated by anti-Israel sentiment (read anti-Semitism) and a naive, politically correct belief in Palestinian goodwill, despite the abundant evidence of ongoing incitement and terrorist attacks.
In the words of World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, the delisting “gives Hamas a huge moral victory and will strengthen it vis-à-vis moderate forces in the Palestinian territories.”
Added Lauder, “It is especially ironic that today, at a time when not just Western countries such as Canada and the US, but also moderate Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan, consider Hamas a terrorist group, the European Union shouldn’t anymore.”
The course the PA is pursuing toward statehood increasingly demonstrates that political aims can be achieved through terrorism. Not procedural changes, not unilateral moves, not propagandistic declarations, but only direct negotiations can resolve the conflict.