The leader of Hamas in exile says the European Union General Court decision to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations should pave the way for countries to follow suit.
In a statement to Middle East Monitor, Khaled Mashal said the EU’s “past position was not based on objective facts.”
“In addition to this, it was in violation of and contradictory to international law as well as legal and humanitarian norms that guarantee the right of nations to resist occupation. It would be in the European Union’s best interest to align itself with international law and with legal and humanitarian norms and to refrain from violating these laws under the misguided pressure of Israel and its exploitation of the international community,” Mashal said.
The Hamas leader urged leaders of EU countries “to accept and cooperate with the decision of the Court and to take measures to make a brave political decision to remove Hamas from the European Union’s terrorist list in coordination with the Court’s decision and with the values of justice and law, as well as out of respect of the people’s will and their rights.”
“I also urge the leaders and governments in EU states to avoid stalling or wasting time by taking measures or making appeals attempting to circumvent international law and objective facts,” Mashal added. “I also hope that all international forces, including the United States, take the initiative and right the wrong that has been made in the past, which, as everyone knows, is a result of Israeli pressure and not a result of the facts on the ground.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today that the U.S. is reviewing the court’s findings.
“According to a statement by the European Union, this decision was based on procedural grounds. We understand that the E.U. sanctions Hamas remain in effect pending the E.U.’s decision on whether to appeal,” Psaki said. “The U.S. position on has not changed; Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization.”
“Hamas continues to engage in terrorist activity and has demonstrated its intentions during this summer’s conflicts with Israel. It fired thousands of rockets into Israeli civilian areas and attempted to infiltrate Israel through tunnels that extended into Israel,” Psaki continued.
“We will continue to work closely with the European Union on Hamas-related issues. We believe that the E.U. should maintain its terrorism sanctions on Hamas.”
Mashal said Hamas “continues to confine its legitimate resistance and struggle to Palestine and exercises this against the Israeli occupation.”
“This is a natural right for the movement and for all nations under foreign occupation and it is in accordance with our religious and international laws, just as the other nations in the East and the West resisted their occupying forces,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “not satisfied with the European Union’s explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations is a ‘technical matter.'”
“The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect it to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas – a murderous terrorist organization, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal – is an inseparable part of this list,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight Hamas with strength and determination so that it never achieves this goal.”