UK Move to Fully Ban Hamas Terror Group Hailed as ‘Long Overdue’
British Jewish groups and political leaders praised on Friday the government’s announcement that it would formally ban the Palestinian terror group Hamas, bringing UK policy in line with Israel, the United States, and the European Union.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the entire Hamas organization — including its political wing — would be proscribed as a terrorist organization, two decades after the group’s military arm was outlawed.
“Hamas is an organization which calls for the establishment of a Islamic Palestinian state under Sharia law and has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. It has long been involved in significant terrorist violence,” Patel said in a statement. “This action will support efforts to protect the British public and the international community in the global fight against terrorism.”
The ban under the Terrorism Act makes it a criminal offense to be a member of or invite support for Hamas, with offenders facing up to 14 years in prison.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews thanked Patel and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the move, calling it a “decisive action in tackling extremism.”
“Full proscription ends the dangerous loophole via which this terrorist organization can spread its extremist poison here and raise funds and support in the UK,” the group said. “Hamas regularly espouses violent ideology and grotesque antisemitism. It is responsible for countless terror attacks including suicide bombings, the murder of Israeli citizens and others, the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, repression of political opponents, women, and LGBT people.”
The Community Security Trust, a British nonprofit that helps secure the Jewish community, noted that Jewish groups had long been calling for the UK to ban Hamas’ political wing.
“Hamas’ founding charter and much of its propaganda are full of anti-Jewish slurs, and their UK-based supporters have made pro-Palestinian campaigning in this country more radical and extreme,” the CST said Friday. “It is entirely correct that the political activities that support their murderous terrorism.”
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since a 2007 takeover, one year after winning parliamentary elections there. In May, it launched rockets at Israel along with other Palestinian terror groups, prompting its most recent conflict with the Jewish state.
British politicians from across the political spectrum also hailed Patel’s announcement, including pro-Israel parliamentary groups.
“This is a welcome decision and one that’s long overdue,” commented Labour Friends of Israel. “Hamas is an antisemitic terror group that should rightly be banned in full.
Conservative Friends of Israel said Hamas posed a threat not only to Israel, but to “Jewish communities around the world, including at home in the UK.”
“The Conservative Government has again demonstrated its commitment to stamping out antisemitism, protecting the Jewish community and supporting Israel,” commented CFI Parliamentary Chairmen, Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP (Commons) and Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles (Lords) and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak.
The UK ban will also help support the takedown of online content, the Home Secretary said. It will be debated in parliament in the coming days and, if approved, take effect on Nov. 26.