JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Europeans appeared to have learned nothing from the Holocaust, after an EU court ordered the removal of Hamas from its terror blacklist.
“In Luxemburg the European court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by his office.
“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing.”
“But we in Israel, we’ve learned. We’ll continue to defend our people and our state against the forces of terror and tyranny and hypocrisy,” he said at the start of a meeting with US Republican Senator-elect Joni Ernst.
The General Court of the European Union ruled Wednesday that the original listing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet.
But it stressed the decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group”.
Founded in 1987 shortly after the start of the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, Hamas was inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Its charter calls for the eventual destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state on the pre-1948 borders of British-mandated Palestine.
Netanyahu also lambasted Wednesday’s European Parliament vote backing recognition in principle of Palestinian statehood and the holding of an international conference in Geneva that he said sought to probe accusations of Israeli war crimes.
Together with the court decision, he said, they gave an impression of weakness in the face of militant groups which was liable to boomerang.
“They point to a spirit of appeasement in Europe of the very forces that threaten Europe itself,” he said at an annual reception for foreign journalists.
Switzerland gathered diplomats from 126 of the 196 signatories of the Geneva Conventions to discuss protections for civilians, fulfilling a five-year-old request for such a conference from the UN General Assembly.
“Today we witnessed staggering examples of European hypocrisy,” Netanyahu said at the meeting with Ernst.
“In Geneva they call for the investigation of Israel for war crimes,” he said.
Paul Fivat, Switzerland’s special ambassador for the Geneva Conventions, said the intention was “not to accuse, it was not a tribunal… it was a place simply for the parties to reiterate what is international law”.
“This declaration is a signal that is being sent to conflicting parties, especially the civilian populations, that there is a law which is protecting their interests,” he told reporters.
The Palestinians warn they may seek to sign up to the International Criminal Court and have threatened to file a suit against Israel over its July-August war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians.