Once again, the Europeans seem to be in Alice's Wonderland when they consider Palestinian affairs in particular and the Middle East in general. The renewed attempt by the European Union to remove the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas from its terrorism list is a case in point.
Recently, an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) recommended that Hamas be removed from the EU's terrorism blacklist. In 2014, the EU's second-highest court ruled that Hamas should be taken off the list on "technical" grounds. It argued that Hamas's listing was not based on evidence, but on "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet."
However, the European Council then appealed this judgement, arguing that Hamas should remain on the terrorism blacklist, citing a 2001 decision by the UK and the US that designated both Hamas and the Tamil Tigers as terrorist groups. But the recent opinion by the ECJ advisor dismisses this argument. "The council cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet," Advocate General Eleanor Sharpton said. She explained that the council could not rely on terrorist listings by countries (the UK and US) outside the EU.
This latest highly dangerous European attempt to strike Hamas from the terrorism blacklist will, as the EU knows perfectly well, only serve further to embolden the Islamist movement to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.
Removing Hamas from the terrorism list would obviously be seen as a severe blow to Hamas's rivals in the Western-backed and funded Palestinian Authority (PA), and to the efforts to revive any peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
As this is not the EU's first attempt to do this, it is hard not to conclude what many Palestinians have suspected all along: that the EU and its affiliates do not care if the Palestinians and others in the area are overrun by Hamas terrorists and are forced to live under the rule of despotic Islamist militants.
The recent opinion by the European court advisor lightheartedly ignores Hamas's own statements concerning its true intentions and continued preparations for war against Israel. It is hard not to conclude that this is what the EU secretly wants -- perhaps for Muslim voters, who brought to power France's President François Hollande, perhaps in the hope of buying off terrorists so that they avoid further attacks in Europe, perhaps to continue good business deals with Arab and Muslim countries, and, of course, perhaps all of the above.
It came as no surprise, therefore, that Hamas was quick to "welcome" the opinion of the European Court advisor to whitewash and legitimize the Islamist terror movement. "Hamas considers the recommendation a first step towards removing the sin committed by the European Union towards the Palestinian people when it demonstrated bias in favor of Israel by placing Hamas on the terrorism list," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who welcomed the opinion and called on the Europeans to abide by it. Hamas, he added, has always been keen on openness towards the West and on building strong humanitarian and political relations with it. Israel is the only enemy of Hamas, Abu Zuhri stressed.
In other words, Abu Zuhri would like the Europeans to understand that they need not worry about terrorism by the Islamist movement because the attacks will be directed only against Israel. Hamas wants "openness" and "strong" ties with the Europeans because it believes that this will advance its goal of implementing its charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel. This is how Hamas understands the renewed bid to have it removed from the EU's terrorism blacklist. And it is improbable that the EU, which for decades has sought "good relations" between the two sides of the Mediterranean, does not understand it that way, too.
Even more improbable is that some Europeans believe that Hamas should not be on the terrorism only on the basis of press articles and information on the internet -- as if what is being said about Hamas and its goals are rumors or unsubstantiated charges that need to be verified, and for which there is no basis.
What of Hamas's own charter, which calls for Jihad (holy war) against Israel. "There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad," the charter states. It goes on to say that the
"liberation of that land (Palestine) is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad...We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the (Islamic) Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters. The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Wakf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it."
Okay, one might argue, so the Europeans will not take seriously the Hamas covenant. Yet what does the ECJ make of the incessant rhetoric of Hamas?
Here is what Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, had to say after the recommendation: "Resistance is the only way to liberate Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." Praising the recent wave of Palestinian knife and car-ramming attacks on Israelis, Hammad called on Palestinians to rise against any peace process with Israel. "The path of negotiations has dissipated the Palestinian cause," he added.
In a statement marking the first anniversary of the anti-Israel attacks, which is being referred to by many Palestinians as the "Jerusalem Intifada," Hamas said this week that the wave of terrorism will not stop "until the occupation is driven out of Jerusalem, the West Bank and all Palestine." Reiterating its refusal to recognize the "Zionist Entity's" right to exist, Hamas said that the Palestinians maintain the right to "resistance in all its forms."
Let us translate that for a moment: When Hamas talks about "resistance in all its forms," it is referring to killing Jews with suicide bombings, rockets, knives and vehicles. As far as Hamas is concerned, Palestinians are entitled to use all these methods to kill as many Jews as possible and drive them out, to "liberate all of Palestine." Notably, this statement was issued after, not before, the recent recommendation by the European court advisor to remove Hamas from the terrorism list. This is far from simply another "press article" or "rumor" published on the internet; this is an official statement released by the Hamas leadership.
To its credit, and despite the clearly genocidal ECJ recommendation, Hamas has been utterly transparent concerning its intentions. In fact, Hamas has never hidden its desire to destroy Israel and prevent any peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. This position and strategy has not changed since the establishment of the Islamist movement nearly thirty years ago. And if the officials of the EU and the ECJ do not know that, they should be replaced.
Further evidence of Hamas's intentions and policies was provided by another leader of the movement, Mahmoud Zahar, who assured supporters in the Gaza Strip last week that Hamas will never recognize Israel's right to exist. "We will not give up one inch of the land of Palestine to the Israeli entity," Zahar declared. He then praised Palestinians for using "stones and knives" to attack Jews.
These are only some of the recent statements by Hamas leaders and spokesmen that leave no room for doubt as to the movement's intentions to continue using terrorism as a means to destroy Israel. Perhaps EU officials might go to the numerous Hamas websites and read what is being said there by the movement's leaders. The words speak for themselves.
Hamas's threats do not stop at rhetoric. Hamas's current actions also attest to its goals. Hamas and other terror groups openly continue to dig tunnels that will be used to attack Israel.
Only days after the ECJ recommendation was published, another Palestinian was killed while working in a tunnel. He was identified as 30-year-old Ahmed As'ad. Other men were wounded in the incident, in a tunnel that was supposed to serve Hamas and other terrorist groups to attack Israel.
Meanwhile, last week, in the context of these preparations, the terror group Al-Naser Salah Eddin Brigades unveiled a new rocket called Koka 70 (named after one of its leaders, Abu Yusef Koka).
The European recommendation to remove Hamas from the terrorism blacklist comes at a time when Hamas and other groups are not only talking about attacks, but also actively preparing to launch new rockets and infiltrate Israel via attack tunnels. These are not unverified press reports, but facts -- facts that fly in the face of the European whitewashing and legitimizing of this terrorist group.
The ECJ is sending the message to Hamas that the Europeans see no problem with Hamas's desire to destroy Israel and continue to launch terrorist attacks against Jews. This message also undermines those Palestinians who still believe in a peace with Israel. Moreover, the recommendation comes at a time when countries such as Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and even Saudi Arabia, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are doing their utmost to weaken Hamas.
Those who embolden Hamas also strengthen ISIS, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe. Appeasing terrorists is a dangerous game: it has already backfired on its foolhardy players and will continue to do so, not less, but more. This is exactly how Muslims conquered Iran, Turkey, North Africa, the Crimea and much of Europe including Hungary, Greece, Poland, Romania, and the Balkans -- countries that still recall a real "occupation," an Islamist one, all too well, and abundantly want none of it.
The Ottoman Empire at its largest size. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Mevlüt Kılıç)
The EU and the ECJ need to be stopped before they do any more harm to Palestinians, Christians and Jews -- or to Europe.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.