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EU removes Hamas from terror list (for now) and votes to recognise Palestine

The vote was in principle, and a watered-down version of the original motion.

Palestinian Hamas masked gunmen display their military skills during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group earlier this week.
Palestinian Hamas masked gunmen display their military skills during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group earlier this week.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has overwhelmingly backed the recognition of a Palestinian state “in principle”, following a series of votes on the issue in EU nations that have enraged Israel.

Lawmakers approved the motion by 498 votes to 88 with 111 abstentions, although it was a watered down version of an original motion which had urged EU member states to recognise a Palestinian state unconditionally.

The motion said the parliament “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced”.

Technical grounds

The vote came hours after a European court ordered the EU to drop the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from its terrorism blacklist on technical grounds.

“The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organisation,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said, adding that the EU would consider its response to the court’s ruling, including the possibility of an appeal.

The original listing in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet, the General Court of the European Union said in a statement.

Terrorist group

But it stressed that Wednesday’s 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.”

The freeze on Hamas’s funds will also temporarily remain in place for three months pending any appeal by the EU, the Luxembourg-based court said.

Israel Settlements Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Source: AP/Press Association Images

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

“We are not satisfied with the European Union’s explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organisations is a ‘technical matter’,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

We expect it (the EU) to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas – a murderous terrorist organisation, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal — is an inseparable part of this list.

The socialist, greens and radical left groups in the European Parliament had wanted an outright call for the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

But the centre-right European People’s Party of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, the leading group in parliament, forced them into a compromise motion linking it to peace talks.

EPP chief Manfred Weber said:

There is no immediate unconditional recognition (of statehood).

But his socialist counterpart Gianni Pittella insisted it was a “historic decision” and a “victory for the whole parliament”.

Several European parliaments have passed motions urging their governments to recognise a Palestinian state in recent weeks in a bid to pressure Israel to relaunch the moribund peace process.

France, Britain, Spain, Ireland and Portugal have all passed votes to that end.

Sweden has gone even further, officially recognising Palestine as a state.

© – AFP 2014

‘Let’s move beyond symbolism’: Dáil votes unanimously to recognise the State of Palestine >

Read: ‘I don’t want to live through a fourth war’ >

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