A recommendation by a legal adviser to the European Court of Justice that Hamas should be removed from the EU's list of terror organisations has caused concern that the court will stand by a previous ruling to do so.
Hamas has been on the list since 2001. In 2014, however, the European General Court accepted an appeal by the Gaza-based outfit to be removed, ruling that the decision had been based on "imputations derived from the press and the internet".
The legal adviser, Elanor Sharpston, upheld the original ruling in her recommendation to the court, saying that the EU's decision had indeed been based on media reports instead of "competent authorities" and therefore the grounds for Hamas' listing were "not sufficient".
A decision to rule in accordance with the recommendation will not prevent a future decision to put Hamas back on the terrorist list, but that could take time for political and legal reasons. Such a ruling would not necessarily affect the policies of individual European governments, but it would give Hamas-linked organisations a legal advantage in their efforts to appeal freezes on financial assets and fight moves limit their operations in Europe.
Emanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: "We are waiting to read the full legal opinion and we will study it carefully. It is only one opinion that doesn't necessarily obligate the court and is part of the European legal process. We are convinced that the EU will do whatever is necessary to keep Hamas, an active terror organisation, on the European terror list."
Hamas has never been so isolated is it currently is
A senior Israeli officer said this week: "Hamas has never been as isolated as it currently is. It has failed to rebuild its relationship with Egypt and President El-Sisi sees them as hostile, and partners of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are not receiving much aid from Iran any longer and are disappointed that Turkey, which has signed a rapprochement agreement with Israel, is no longer doing much to support them."