By Arab News
By Alicia Buller
The EU’s top court opted to keep Palestinian group Hamas on the EU terrorism blacklist on Wednesday.
Judges at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) overruled the General Court’s view of 2014 that the Council of the EU had insufficient evidence to maintain asset freezes and travel bans on Hamas.
The lower court had found that the listing was based on media and Internet reports rather than decisions by a “competent authority.” But the ECJ said such decisions were not required for groups to stay on the list, only for their initial listing.
Experts offered mixed opinions on what the decision might mean. Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, told Arab News that “on the face of it, the decision is based on a legal interpretation but there is a wider political context around this. The political environment today is very concerned about extremists. Terrorism is higher up on the agenda than it was in 2014.”
Lucas said that should the General Court not decide to review the ruling in the near future, this move “would contextualize Hamas as ‘terrorists’ and set the political tone for the EU going forward.”
The professor added that he would be “interested to see if the UK creates its own ruling on Hamas following its divorce from the EU in the coming years.”
Tally Helfont, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Programme on the Middle East, said that Hamas has not taken any actions that would warrant its removal from the EU terrorism blacklist.
She told Arab News: “Daily activities in Gaza are evidence of this. What’s more, the recent amendment of Hamas’ charter seems to have brought no substantive change to the militant group’s activities, amounting to little more than a poorly received PR stunt.”