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Hamas reacts to EU blacklisting
Hamas has responded angrily to the European Union's decision to put the political wing of the Palestinian resistance group on its blacklist of "terrorist" groups.
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2003 13:06 GMT
Hamas political leader Mahmud al-Zahar, injured in an Israeli airstrike, branded a terrorist by the EU
Hamas has responded angrily to the European Union's decision to put the political wing of the Palestinian resistance group on its blacklist of "terrorist" groups.

The inclusion of Hamas will inflame Palestinian radicalism and harm the legitimacy of the EU as a power broker in the Middle East, according to the group's spokesman in Beirut, Usama Hamdan.

"This is surprising because we thought the Europeans understood the Palestinian problem better than the Americans. But we know that they have made this decision because of pressure from the United States," he said.

The group's political wing believes that the Palestinian people will see the US, Israel and the EU united against them, which will encourage more resistance attacks rather than fewer.

"The European countries will not be able to play a more active role in the region," Hamdan said. "The Palestinian people will join the resistance and become more radical as they see no political solution."

Assets freeze

The decision, which will lead to Hamas assets being frozen across the 15 members of the European Union, came during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Thursday, diplomatic sources said.

It will become official on Saturday when Hamas' name will be included on a revised blacklist in the EU's official journal, the sources added.

Diplomats had pointed out that Hamas's political wing consists of a number of non-military agencies and groups, some of them with social and charity functions - and that banning all of them would hurt ordinary Palestinians.

A spokesman for EU-member Britain's foreign office confirmed that the decision had been reached. "It is because  of Hamas' role in terrorism and supporting terrorism, in particular the Jerusalem bus bombing (in which 22 people died)," he said.

Hamas' armed division has also claimed responsibility for two bomb attacks in Israel on Tuesday in which 15 Israelis died, sparking an angry retaliation from Israel with Israeli defence and security officials due to hold emergency talks on Thursday.

The attacks came amid repeated efforts by Israeli helicopter gunships to assassinate the leaders of Hamas in their homes, regardless of the risk to other Palestinians. The most recent was Tuesday's strike on Mahmud al-Zahar, a leader within Hamas' political wing, whose son and a bodyguard were killed while he survived.

No compensation

The precise details of the individuals and organisations close to Hamas, which will figure on the EU's list are not yet known.

EU ministers agreed the blacklisting on Saturday, at informal talks on Italy's Lake Garda.

The decision had been held up for months by a group of EU states including France and Germany, which argued that it would be counterproductive.

Diplomats had pointed out that Hamas's political wing consists of a number of non-military agencies and groups, some of them with social and charity functions - and that banning all of them would hurt ordinary Palestinians.

The European Commission stressed that it already gave "generous" financial aid to the Palestinian Authority - a 245-million euro package - and would not be able to compensate any funds cut off by the blacklisting.

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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