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International positions on the nature of Hamas

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Hamas and its branches are viewed very differently among the governments of various countries. Hamas (or its charity branches and military wing) have been put on the terrorist lists of many (though not all) Western countries. Meanwhile, many Asian countries believe Hamas to be the legitimate government of the Gaza Strip.

International designation of Hamas

Country Designation
 Australia The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organization.[1]
 New Zealand The military wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been listed as a terrorist entity since 2010.[2]
 Canada Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Government of Canada currently lists Hamas as a terrorist entity, thus establishing it as a terrorist group, since 2002.[3][4]
 EU The EU designated Hamas as a terrorist group from 2003. In December 2014, the General Court of the European Union ordered to remove HAMAS from the register. The court stated that the move was technical and was not a reassessment of Hamas' classification as a terrorist group. In March 2015, EU decided to keep Hamas on its terrorism blacklist "despite a controversial court decision", appealing the court's judgment.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Hamas remains on the list as of January 2017.[13]
 Israel The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, "Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel."[14]
 Japan As of 2005, Japan had frozen the assets of 472 terrorists and terrorist organizations including those of Hamas.[15] However, in 2006 it publicly acknowledged that Hamas had won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections democratically.[16]
 Jordan Banned Hamas in 1999[17] In 2013, Jordan rejected requests to allow Hamas to return.[18]
 Russia Russia does not designate Hamas a terrorist organisation, and held direct talks with Hamas in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestine elections, stating that it did so to press Hamas to reject violence and recognise Israel.[19] An Israeli official has said that Russia will reduce its ties to Hamas.[20]
 Turkey The Turkish government met with Hamas leaders in February 2006, after the organization's victory in the Palestinian elections. In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Hamas as "resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land".[21][22]
 United Kingdom The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been listed as a proscribed organization under the Terrorism Act since 2001, but Hamas as a whole is not listed.[23]
 China As of 2006, China does not designate Hamas to be a terrorist organization and acknowledges Hamas to be the legitimately elected political entity in the Gaza Strip that represents the Palestinian people. Despite U.S. and Israeli opposition, the Chinese government met with senior Hamas representative Mahmoud al-Zahar, who previously served as Palestinian foreign minister, during the June 2006 China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing, and held direct bilateral talks with Hamas and the Arab World. In addition, during the same month, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry further elucidated China's pro-Palestinian stance regarding Hamas in spite of U.S. and Israeli opposition to China's associations and close relationship with the organization, stating, "We believe that the Palestinian government is legally elected by the people there and it should be respected."[24][25][26][27]
 United States Lists Hamas as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization"[28]
 Saudi Arabia Banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. While Hamas is not specifically listed, a non-official Saudi source stated that the decision also encompasses its branches in other countries, including Hamas.[29]
 Egypt Cairo's Urgent Matters Court has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in February 2015, as part of a campaign to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood movement following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état aftermath. The court has accused Hamas of carrying terrorist attacks in Egypt through tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. In March 2014, the same court outlawed Hamas' activities in Egypt, ordered the closure of its offices and to arrest any Hamas member found in the country.[30][31] However, in June 2015 Egypt's appeals court overturned the ruling that listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.[32]
  Switzerland Switzerland does not designate Hamas as a terrorist organization. In accordance with Swiss neutrality, its policy of contact with the main actors of a conflict is characterized by impartial inclusiveness, discretion and pragmatism. Switzerland has direct contacts with all major stakeholders in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, including Hamas.[33]

According to Tobias Buck, while Hamas is listed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the U.S. and the EU, few treat it that way. In the Arab and Muslim world, Hamas has lost its pariah status and its emissaries are welcomed in capitals of Islamic countries.[34] In August 2014 Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson at the height of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict called for the recognition of Hamas as a legitimate political actor, noting the group had recently formed a unity government with the Palestinian Authority, and in so doing had agreed to denounce violence, recognize Israel and adhere to past agreements.[35]

United States designation of Hamas

The State Department decided to add Hamas to its U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in April 1993.[36] As of 2009, Hamas is still listed.[37]

The United States states that its strong stand against Hamas arises from the group's use of violence, its opposition to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and because Hamas is allegedly receiving support from Iran and collaborating with the Lebanese group Hezbollah. The Hamas representative in Iran denied the allegation that it had received $30 million from Iran in 1992, but acknowledged Iranian assistance to Palestinian groups. In particular, the U.S. alleges that Hamas soldiers have been given refuge in southern Lebanon, where they receive training and support from Hezbollah guerrillas.[citation needed]

The FBI and United States Department of Justice also stated, in 2004, that Hamas threatened the United States through covert cells on U.S. soil.[38][39] Researcher Steven Emerson in 2006 alleged that the group had "an extensive infrastructure in the U.S. mostly revolving around the activities of fundraising, recruiting and training members, directing operations against Israel, organizing political support and operating through human-rights front groups". Emerson added that while the group had never acted outside of Israel or the Palestinian Territories, it does have the capacity to carry out attacks in the U.S. "if it decided to enlarge the scope of its operations".[40] FBI director Robert Mueller in 2005 testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that, the FBI's assessment at that time was that there was "a limited threat of a coordinated terrorist attack in the US from Palestinian terrorist organizations" such as Hamas. He added that Hamas had "maintained a longstanding policy of focusing their attacks on Israeli targets in Israel and the Palestinian territories", and that the FBI believed that the main interest of Hamas in the U.S. remained "the raising of funds to support their regional goals". Mueller also stated, "of all the Palestinian groups, Hamas has the largest presence in the US, with a robust infrastructure, primarily focused on fundraising, propaganda for the Palestinian cause, and proselytizing." Although it would be a major strategic shift for Hamas, its United States network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the U.S.[41]

On May 2, 2011, Hamas leader and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by the United States.[42] Haniyeh praised Bin Laden, the founder of the jihadist organization al-Qaeda, as a "martyr" and an "Arab holy warrior".[43][44] The United States government condemned his remarks as "outrageous".[45] Hamas has reportedly maintained operational and financial ties with al Qaeda.[46]

Public opinion about Hamas

In Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Prior to 2006, Hamas was well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah.[47][48]

Public opinions of Hamas have deteriorated in the Palestinian territories since it took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Prior to the takeover, 62% of Palestinians and held a favorable view of the group, while a third had negative views. According to a 2014 Pew Research just prior to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, only about a third had positive opinions and more than half viewed Hamas negatively. Furthermore, 68% of Israeli Arabs viewed Hamas negatively.[49] Hamas popularity however surged again after the war in 2014 with polls reporting that 81 percent of Palestinians felt that Hamas had "won" that war.[50][51]

In Arab and Muslim countries

Pro-Hamas rally in Damascus

In Lebanon, 65% see Hamas negatively. In Jordan and Egypt, roughly 60% see Hamas negatively, and in Turkey, 80% have a negative opinion of Hamas. In Tunisia, 42% have a negative opinion of Hamas, while 56% of Bangladeshis and 44% of Indonesians have a negative opinion of Hamas.[49]

Legal action against Hamas

In the United States

The charitable trust Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was accused in December 2001 of funding Hamas.[52] The U.S. Justice Department filed 200 charges against the foundation. The case first ended in a mistrial, in which jurors acquitted on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists. In a retrial, on November 24, 2008, the five leaders of the Foundation were convicted on 108 counts.[53]

In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 murders of Yaron and Efrat Ungar near Bet Shemesh, Israel. Hamas has been ordered to pay the families of the Ungars $116 million.[56] On July 5, 2004, the court issued a default judgment against the PNA and the PLO regarding the Ungars' said that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.[citation needed]

On August 20, 2004, three Palestinians, one a naturalized American citizen, were charged with a "lengthy racketeering conspiracy to provide money for terrorist acts in Israel". The indicted include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior member of Hamas considered a fugitive by the U.S.[57]

On February 1, 2007, two men were acquitted of contravening United States law by supporting Hamas. Both men argued that they helped move money for Palestinian causes aimed at helping the Palestinian people and not to promote terrorism.[58]

In January 2009, a Federal prosecutor accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations of having links to a charity designated as a support network for Hamas.[59] The Justice Department identified CAIR as an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the Holy Land Foundation case in Dallas, which concluded with the sentencing of the two founders of the foundation to life in prison for funneling $12 million to Hamas.[60] Later, a federal appeals court removed that label for all parties and instead, named them "joint venturers".[61]

In Germany

A German federal court ruled in 2004 that Hamas was a unified organisation whose humanitarian aid work could not be separated from its "terrorist and political activities".[62] In July 2010, Germany also outlawed Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Aid Organization (IHH e.V.), saying it had used donations to support Hamas-affiliated relief projects in Gaza.[63][64] While presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian assistance, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, IHH e.V. had "exploited trusting donors' willingness to help by using money that was given for a good purpose for supporting what is, in the final analysis, a terrorist organization".[63][64][65] A spokesperson for the Islamic Human Rights Commission described the decision as "a victory for those who seek to stigmatise all Islamic activism as supporting terrorism".[66]

See also


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  2. ^ "Lists associated with Resolution 1373". New Zealand Police. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Currently listed entities". Public Safety Canada, Government of Canada. March 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "About the Anti-terrorism Act". Department of Justice, Government of Canada. September 12, 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "EU court takes Hamas off terrorist organisations list". BBC. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  7. ^ "EU Court Strikes Down Inclusion of Hamas on Terror List". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  8. ^ "EU court rules Hamas should be taken off terror list". USA Today. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Barak Ravid, 'EU court orders Hamas removed from terror list,' Haaretz 17 December 2014.
  11. ^ 'Hamas removed from EU terrorist list on technicality,' Reuters 17 December 2014.
  12. ^ 'EU court orders Hamas removal from terror blacklist,' Ma'an News Agency 17 December 2014.
  13. ^ http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32017D0154&from=EN
  14. ^ The Financial Sources of the Hamas Terror Organization, 2003-07-30
  15. ^ "Japan's Diplomatic Bluebook 2005" (PDF). 2005. "In accordance with the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, it [Japan] has frozen the assets of a total of 472 terrorists and terrorist organizations, including ..., as well as those of Hamas ..."
  16. ^ Michael Penn, Japan and the War on Terror: Military Force and Political Pressure in the US-Japanese Alliance, I.B.Tauris 2014 p.206
  17. ^ Karmi, Omar. "What does the Hamas victory mean for nearby Jordan?", The Daily Star, February 18, 2006
  18. ^ King Abdullah Says No To Hamas. September 17, 2013. Khaled Abu Toameh.
  19. ^ Eke, Steven (March 3, 2006). "Moscow risks anger over Hamas visit". BBC. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  20. ^ Naami, Saleh. "Moscow to distance itself from Hamas". ahramOnline, December 15, 2010.
  21. ^ Lazaroff, T. (May 13, 2011). "Erdogan: 'Hamas is not a terrorist organization'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  22. ^ "Turkish FM Davutoğlu meets Hamas chief amid Israel row". Hurriyetdailynews.com. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  23. ^ Proscribed Terrorist Organisations Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine gov.uk
  24. ^ "Bank of China may have helped Hamas kill Jews". Free Zionism. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
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  35. ^ "Former U.S. President and ex-Human Rights Council chief call for ICC probe into Gaza war". Herald Globe. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  36. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document "Hamas: The Organizations, Goals and Tactics of a Militant Palestinian Organization".
  37. ^ "US Department of State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations fact sheet, released July 7, 2009". State.gov. January 19, 2010. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  38. ^ United States v. Abu Marzook Archived 2009-05-30 at the Wayback Machine. No. 03 CR 978 12. IL District Ct. 2005.
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