The United Kingdom is set to identify Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, as a terrorist organization. British Home Secretary Preity Patel says she is looking for a way to identify the whole of Hamas as a terrorist organization.
The United Kingdom has already declared the military wing of Hamas a terrorist organization, according to the BBC. This time the country is on the way to label the political wing of the organization as terrorists.
According to AFP, Patel’s office said that if the government identified and banned the group as a terrorist group, it would be a criminal offense to associate with, support, or wear clothing that supports the group. The accused can be sentenced to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment or fine or both for such offenses.
A proposal to identify Hamas as a terrorist organization will be tabled in the British Parliament next Friday. It will then be discussed and will be effective from November 26, subject to approval. The United States and the European Union (EU) listed Hamas as a terrorist organization in 1995. Preity Patel said the decision was being taken in line with allies.
Patel announced the move in a speech on security and counter-terrorism in Washington, DC. Israel has long been pressuring the United Kingdom to take such action. The BBC says the decision reflects Israel’s deep ties with the ruling Conservative Party.
Israel has welcomed the UK’s decision. “There is no legitimate branch of a terrorist organization,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yar’Adua Lapid. Therefore, any attempt to differentiate between different branches of the terrorist organization is artificial. ‘In 2001, the United Kingdom banned the military wing of Hamas.
Founded in 1967, Hamas has political and military branches. Hamas opposes the existence of Israel and any peace talks with Israel. Instead of negotiating, the armed group believes in an armed resistance movement against Israel occupying Palestinian territory. They campaign for it.
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2006 over threats from Hamas. The two sides clashed in May this year. More than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.