UK aims to declare Hamas a terrorist group

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is the most senior Indian-origin MP ever in a British government .
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is the most senior Indian-origin MP ever in a British government . She announced the move on Friday, against Hamas to designate it as a terror group .

Palestinian group Hamas may soon be declared a terrorist organisation if a vote gets passed by UK parliament this week.

Britain is attempting to ban the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation – and showing support for the group could be punishable with 14 years in prison.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the move on Friday, which would bring Britain into line with the European Union as well as the US, which designated Hamas a terror group in 1995.

Parliament will vote on the proposals next week and if successful, it could become effective from next Friday.

Ms Patel argued an outright ban under the Terrorism Act 2000 was necessary because it was not possible to distinguish between Hamas’ political and military wings.

The al-Qassam Brigades military wing of the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip has been banned in Britain since March 2001.

“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence,” she said in a statement.

“Hamas commits, participates, prepares for and promotes and encourages terrorism.”

Ms Patel, who is currently visiting the US, earlier called Hamas “fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic”, adding that proscription was required to protect the Jewish community.

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett applauded the news, calling Hamas “a radical Islamic group that targets innocent Israelis and seeks Israel’s destruction”.

“I welcome the UK’s intention to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation in its entirety – because that’s exactly what it is,” he wrote on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the move was a result of “joint efforts” between the British and Israeli governments.

Move condemned as ‘political, moral, legal sin’

But Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem called the move “a crime against our Palestinian people and all their history of struggle, as well as a condemnation of the legitimate struggles of all free peoples against colonialism”.

“Instead of apologising and correcting its historical sin against the Palestinian people … [Britain] supports the aggressors at the expense of the victims.”

That comment referred to the Balfour Declaration and British Mandate, which it said handed “Palestinian lands to the Zionist movement”.

Mr Qassem said, if approved, the decision would be “a great political, moral and legal sin committed by Britain”.

“Resisting occupation, by all available means, including armed resistance, is a right guaranteed by international law to people under occupation,” he added

The group called on its supporters to condemn the UK’s move, as it described Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, forcible displacement of Palestinians, the demolition of their homes, and the siege of more than two million people in Gaza Strip, as “terrorism”.

Founded in 1987, Hamas is against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The proposals would see the outlawing of flying Hamas’ flag, arranging to meet its members or wearing clothing supporting the group.

Politically, it could force Britain’s Labour Party to take a position on Hamas, given the strong pro-Palestinian support on the hard left of the main opposition party.

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 said he regretted once calling members of Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” during a meeting at the British parliament.

Former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he regretted calling members of Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends’. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Mr Corbyn, who said he was attempting “inclusive” language to encourage talks about the peace process, resigned after Labour’s 2019 election drubbing.

Under his leadership, opponents alleged anti-Semitism went unchecked and even flourished, forcing Jewish members and politicians to leave the party in droves.

Earlier this month, a man appeared in court for wearing T-shirts supporting Hamas’ military wing and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was banned in Britain in 2005.

On three occasions in June, Feras Al Jayoosi, 34, wore the garments in the Golders Green area of north London, which has a large Jewish population.

Hezbollah, Iran condemn move

Lebanon’s Iranian backed Hezbollah movement condemned Britain’s decision to proscribe Palestinian militant group Hamas as a terrorist organization, the movement said on Saturday.

Similarly Iran’s foreign minister Saturday condemned the British government’s decision to ban the Palestinian Hamas militant group under UK’s Terrorism Act.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a tweet said, “We condemn the UK’s decision to declare the popular movement of HAMAS a terrorist organization. Rights of Palestinians cannot be trampled on by distorting facts.” . AU