“A consensus has been found to decide to include Hamas on the list of terrorist organisations," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters on Saturday.

 

He was speaking on the margins of an EU foreign ministers' meeting at Riva Del Garda in Italy.

 

The EU last year put Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades on its list of banned “terrorist” organisations, a step which implies freezing of a group's assets and possible prosecution of its activists.

 

Peace process

 

De Villepin said the decision to blacklist Hamas' political wing as well would be confirmed at a forthcoming EU ministers' meeting. But he said the move should also lead to greater Israeli efforts to seek an end to  violence in the Middle East.

  

"(The decision) should be part of a new initiative, a forthright and determined approach by the international community," he said, adding "We strongly urge Israel to engage fully in the implementation of the roadmap (for Middle East peace) with concrete gestures."

 

The EU decision to blacklist Hamas' political wing comes after intense lobbying by Tel Aviv

This included Israel halting the building of new Jewish settlements and ending the construction of a fence separating the Israeli and Palestinian communities "along a route that prejudges political decisions", he said.

 

Israeli lobbying

 

The EU decision to blacklist Hamas' political wing comes after intense lobbying by Tel Aviv and means that funds held by the movement in all the Union's member countries will be blocked.   

 

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw confirmed to reporters that the EU foreign ministers had "taken a political decision to freeze the assets of Hamas".

 

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said a group of intelligence services from member countries would on Monday start examining Hamas and then make recommendations about how to blacklist the organisation.