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Hamas should be removed from terror lists, EU court recommends

But US urges maintenance of sanctions against the Islamist group

Samuel Osborne
Friday 23 September 2016 14:12 BST
Hamas gunmen during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the militant group
Hamas gunmen during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the militant group (AP)

Hamas should be removed from the EU's terrorism blacklist, a top European Court of Justice (ECJ) advisor has recommended.

In 2014, the court ruled that the Palestinian Islamist movement should be taken off the list on technical grounds.

Judges of the General Court ruled that EU leaders relied too heavily on media reports rather than their own investigations when they imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Hamas members.

At the time, Israel recalled Europe's treatment of Jews in the Holocaust and denounced the bloc's "staggering hypocrisy".

The advocate general at the European Court of Justice, whose advice is usually followed closely by judges, recommended they reject an appeal by the Council of EU member states against the 2014 court ruling.

Discussing Thursday's recommendation, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said: "This is only a [legal] opinion which is not binding on the court and is part of the European judicial process.

"We are convinced that the European Union will do all that is required in order to keep Hamas, an active terrorist group, on the European terror list."

The United States has urged the maintenance of sanctions on Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has fought Israel for three decades.

UN: Israeli demolitions displace more than a thousand Palestinians

The advocate general has also recommended that the Tamil Tigers be removed from the blacklist.

The Sri Lankan government provided evidence, which the court found lacking to support sanctions against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Members' assets remain frozen pending the appeal.

Both Hamas and the Tamil Tigers argue they were engaged in legal wars against Israel and the Sri Lankan government.

The General Court did not address whether the groups' actions merited inclusion on the list of terrorist organisations but ruled the procedures by which they had been put there were flawed.

The European Court of Justice said its justices were beginning their deliberations on the case and there was no set date for a ruling.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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