Decisions made by former Labour cabinet ministers Jack Straw and Gordon Brown back in 2001 have just helped the European Union win its latest legal battle against lawyers acting for Hamas.
Gaza’s rulers, whose political leadership is partly based in Doha, are seeking to unfreeze their funds held on the continent, and their lawyers have challenged the technical legality of the way in which the EU adopted its asset freeze.
They said the EU had not adopted a Common Position but instead had relied on American legal decisions designating Hamas as a terrorist organisation, which would have rendered the EU’s asset freeze illegal.
However, the Luxembourg court found that the UK had done so and that this was sufficient. Judges cited Straw’s decision to blacklist the organisation in March 2001, and Brown’s decision to freeze Hamas accounts.
Judges said Straw, who used the UK Terrorism Act 2000 to proscribe Hamas-Izz al-Din al-Qassem on 29 March 2001, was UK Home Secretary at the time, so “has the status of competent authority within the meaning of the Common Position”.
The court was also able to rely on a decision made by then-Chancellor Gordon Brown on 6 December 2001 to freeze the group’s assets.
Hamas lawyers had argued that the EU’s freezing of the group’s assets was “a violation of its right to property” and that it was “disproportionate and intolerable”.