December 17, 2014 | Quote

Doubts Emerge Over EU Court’s Justification for Annulment of Hamas Terror Designation

The decision of the European Union General Court to annul the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization has raised concerns that the Palestinian Islamist group will exploit any legal ambiguities over its present status to rebuild its organizational and fundraising network within Europe.

“The EU needs to clarify what the hell is going on,” Jonathan Schanzer, Vice-President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on Hamas, declared in an interview with The Algemeiner.

While the EU has emphasized that the decision was based on procedural considerations, with its spokesperson adding that “it does not imply any assessment by the Court of the substantive reasons for the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization,” the vexed question of what will happen in the event that an appeal is not lodged within the next three months – a temporary period during which, the court said, the measures against Hamas will remain in place – is still to be satisfactorily answered.

“I don’t have a lot of faith that the redesignation process will happen quickly,” Schanzer said. “It’s not as if the EU-Israel relationship is particularly warm.”

Hamas’s so-called military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, was first designated by the Council of the European Union in December 2001, with the designation of the entire organization following two years later. That erroneous “bifurcation” between its military and political wings is a source of worry to Schanzer, who questioned whether the General Court’s decision will prompt EU lawmakers “to refer back to this distinction” – a move that could potentially legitimize Hamas’s political, if not its military, activities in the eyes of EU.

However, just as the LTTE hailed the General Court’s decision as a “milestone achievement,” so, likely, will Hamas. The coming days and weeks, Schanzer said, will provide an opportunity for Hamas “to debunk and destroy the designation.”

“There’s also the question of whether Hamas will use this opportunity to organize and move funds in ways that may have been illegal,” Schanzer warned.

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