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The EU’s Schizophrenic Position on Hamas
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Thursday 05/04/2018

An Evaluation of European Policy towards Hamas

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In July 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Hamas was rightly put on the list of terror organizations between July 2011 and July 2014. This judgment was a response to the appeal of the European Council against a decision by the General Court, which had ruled that Hamas should not have been on the list during that time.  Even though the Advocate General had provided an advisory opinion stating the ECJ should take the same position as the General Court, the ECJ eventually decided in favor of the European Council. While these deliberations were taking place, there was another case pending concerning Hamas’ request to be removed from the list from March 26, 2015. This report will analyze the practical implications of the listing of Hamas as a terror organization and present it in perspective to the broader European policy towards the Gaza Strip.

In 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled on an appeal by the European Council and set forth that Hamas will remain on the list of terror organizations. This appears to indicate that the European Union (EU) is convinced of the terrorist nature of Hamas, de-legitimizes the organization and tries to prevent its funding. However, this report shows that the EU’s position concerning Hamas is not so clear-cut. Firstly, the EU faces challenges implementing the prevention of funding to Hamas due to its own provision of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which often implicitly benefits Hamas who maintain effective control over the area. More interestingly, the EU’s political response is often highly critical of Israel when addressing the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the hostilities there.

This latest report shows that this criticism is an attempt to transfer responsibility from Hamas to Israel.  It is important to understand that these political responses by the EU implicitly consolidate Hamas’ rule and in a sense, they become a source of legitimacy for the organization. Moreover, the report shows that the EU’s response should be understood in a broader framework, in which it legitimizes Hamas as an organization fighting a legitimate struggle for the Palestinian people, without condemning its methods and practices of terrorism. This report will counter this underlying assumption and urges the EU to acknowledge the responsibility Hamas has in creating the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.  The main argument is that the rule of a terrorist organization over the Gaza Strip is problematic, both for the local population and for Israel. Therefore, it proposes that the EU should problematize the rule of Hamas, and implement measures that will either put pressure on Hamas to abandon its terrorist identity, or that will lead to the complete removal of Hamas from control over the Gaza Strip.

 

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