Hamas hails EU court removal from terrorism blacklist

Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Islamist movement’s creation and to ask for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip on Dec 12, 2014 in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaz
Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Islamist movement’s creation and to ask for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip on Dec 12, 2014 in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas on Wednesday hailed a European court decision to remove the Palestinian Islamist group from the EU's terrorism blacklist, describing the move as a "victory". -- PHOTO: AFP

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Hamas on Wednesday hailed a European court decision to remove the Palestinian Islamist group from the EU's terrorism blacklist, describing the move as a "victory".

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the EU immediately restore Hamas to the blacklist.

"This is a victory for the Palestinian question and for the rights of our people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.

"We thank the European court for this positive decision which must be followed by international steps to lift the oppression of the Palestinian people."

The General Court of the European Union ruled on Wednesday that the original listing of Hamas in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet.

But it stressed that the decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does "not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group".

"We are not satisfied with the European explanation by which Hamas has been withdrawn from this list. We expect the Europeans to puts Hamas back on the list immediately," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Hamas, which has been in power in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since 2007, had appealed against its inclusion on the blacklist on several grounds.