World Bulletin/News Desk
The European Union's second highest court annulled on Wednesday the bloc's decision to keep Hamas on a list of terrorist organisations, but temporarily maintained the measures for a period of three months or until an appeal was closed.
The court said it was nevertheless maintaining the effects of the measures in order to ensure that any possible future freezing of funds would be effective.
''In today’s judgment, the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities, but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet,' the EU court said in a press release.
''The Court annuls the contested measures while temporarily maintaining the effects of those measures in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds," the court added.
"The effects of the measures are maintained for a period of three months, or, if an appeal is brought before the Court of Justice, until this appeal is closed.''
Several European diplomats received instructions to be ready for the possibility that the Luxemburg-based court would remove Hamas from the European terror list, Israel's Channel 10 earlier reported, quoting unnamed European diplomats as having said.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that his group "looks forward to seeing the European Union removing it from the terror list to correct the political mistake committed by the decision to include it."
"The inclusion of Hamas in the terror list was a big mistake that was unfair for the Palestinian people," Abu Zuhri told The Anadolu Agency.
"Hamas is a Palestinian resistance movement and its activity is limited to resisting the [Israeli] occupation, which is a right enshrined in all international laws," he added.
"We expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Hamas was added to the EU's list of terrorist groups in 2003 after it claimed responsibility for several attacks against Israeli targets during the second Palestinian Intifada, a popular uprising that erupted in 2000 against Israel's decades-long occupation. Thousands of Palestinians were killed during the upheaval between 2000 and 2005.