Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the European Union to put the Islamist militant group Hamas back on its list of blacklisted terror groups after an EU court ruled that it should be removed on Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post. The prime minister said that Israel expects the bloc to act “immediately” to annul the decision.
"Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization, which in its charter states its goal is to destroy Israel," Netanyahu said in a statement. The prime minister also said that Israel wasn't satisfied with the explanation that the group’s removal from the list was merely a technical issue. “The burden of proof is on the EU and we expect them to immediately return Hamas to the list where everyone realizes they should be,” he said.
A top EU court in Luxembourg made the ruling after accepting a petition by Hamas. The court found that the EU’s decision to blacklist the organization had been made based on “factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet” and that the evidence behind the decision didn't meet European standards, according to the BBC. The move was a technical ruling and not a reassessment of Hamas’ classification as a terrorist organization, the court said. Implementation of the ruling has been postponed for three months to allow for the EU commission or one of its member states to petition the decision.
Hamas has long contested its designation as a terror group and the news of the ruling was greeted with approval by the organization. A senior Hamas official said that the decision was “a legal victory for Palestinian rights,” in a tweet on Wednesday, Haaretz reported. Israeli politicians expressed their disappointment with the ruling, with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein saying that the EU “must have lost its mind,” according to the Jerusalem Post. Economy minister Naftali Bennet was even more vocal in his criticisms of the EU. "The corrupt law of the EU court gives license for the shedding of Jewish blood everywhere and demonstrates the loss of a moral path," he said.
The court ruling came ahead of a European parliament vote that adopted a resolution supporting Palestinian statehood in principle, a compromise position after some EU members pushed for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, Reuters reported.