EU court upholds freeze on Hamas funds

An EU court rejected a challenge by Hamas against its 2015 listing as a 'terrorist' organization.

    Hamas describes itself as 'a lawful political movement' that won the Palestinian elections [Khalil Hamra/Associated Press]
    Hamas describes itself as 'a lawful political movement' that won the Palestinian elections [Khalil Hamra/Associated Press]

    European Union court has rejected a challenge by Hamas against its 2015 listing as a "terrorist" organisation, a decision that made the Palestinian group liable to EU sanctions.

    The EU General Court's ruling was the latest rejection of Hamas's efforts to be struck from an EU blacklist created in 2001 - a list based on a UN resolution following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

    "In today's judgment, the General Court looks into each of the arguments made by Hamas and rejects them in their totality," the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement on Wednesday.

    As a result, said the court, "the decision to extend the freezing of Hamas funds is confirmed."

    Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, has repeatedly contested the EU's listing decisions.

    Among other arguments, Hamas has said that the 2015 decision rested on facts that were not substantiated by any evidence, that denied it the right of defence, and that infringed upon the group's right to property by freezing its funds.

    'A lawful political movement' 

    The organisation describes itself as "a lawful political movement that won the Palestinian elections and forms the core of the Palestinian government," which should therefore prevent it "from being characterised as a terrorist group".

    The Luxembourg-based judges dismissed the arguments. Since Hamas is "neither a state nor the government of a state, Hamas cannot benefit from the principle of non-interference," the court said.

    Adding Hamas to the "terrorist" list was prompted by an order by the British home secretary and also by a decision from the US secretary of state, which has designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organisation since 1997, according to the court.

    Hamas, which is based in Gaza, advocates armed struggle and refuses to recognise Israel, which has long been unwilling to negotiate with the Islamist group.

    Wednesday's decision can be appealed before the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU's top tribunal.

    In December, the EU General Court dismissed a separate Hamas challenge against an earlier listing decision, after the case had already been through several rounds in court.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies