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UK's blacklisting of Hamas draws condemnation, concern

Supporters of the Palestinian Hamas movement raise flags during a rally to mark Quds Day outside the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in al-Quds' Old City, May 7, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Resistance groups have strongly condemned Britain's decision to ban Hamas, which could see supporters of the Palestinian resistance movement punished with 14 years in prison.

“The decision is not surprising at all as Britain is the founder of the (Israeli) occupation," Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council, said Saturday. 

"The move coincides with the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and underscores Britain's continued support for the criminal regime,” Houthi added.

The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War, which laid the foundations for the entity of Israel. The declaration is seen as a catalyst for the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) where more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes.

“We had hoped that Britain would not commit a new crime against the Palestinian nation following the Balfour Declaration,” said Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau.  

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday announced the move to bring Britain into line with the European Union and the United States, which designated Hamas a terror group in 1995.

The British parliament will vote on the proposals next week and if successful, could become effective from next Friday.

The al-Qassam Brigades military wing of Hamas has been banned in Britain since March 2001. Patel argued an outright ban was necessary because it was not possible to distinguish between Hamas' political and military wing.

Israel applauded the news, with its foreign minister Yair Lapid saying the move was a result of "joint efforts" between the British and Israeli regimes. 

The proposals would see the outlawing of flying Hamas' flag, arranging to meet its members or wearing clothing supporting the group.

Politically, it could force Britain's Labour party to take a position on Hamas, given the strong pro-Palestinian support of the main opposition party.

Showing support for Hamas in Britain could be punished with 14 years in prison if the government succeeds in banning the group.

Earlier this month, a man appeared in court for wearing T-shirts supporting Hamas' military wing and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was banned in Britain in 2005.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the decision, describing the move an unjustified attack on Palestinians, who have been subjected to the most heinous forms of occupation and historical injustice as a result of the ominous Balfour Declaration.

The ministry said in a statement that London’s move placed obstacles on the path to peace, and undermined efforts exerted to consolidate truce in the Gaza Strip and rebuild the impoverished coastal sliver.

“Unfortunately, the British decision came a week after the Israeli prime minister [Naftali Bennett] asked his British counterpart [Boris Johnson] on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Palestinian foreign ministry also slammed British Home Secretary Priti Patel, saying, “She is the same minister who visited the Golan Heights settlements several years ago in coordination with the settlements council there, but without the approval of her government.”

The statement highlighted that the move marks a dangerous shift in Britain’s traditional policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and reflects adoption of Israeli positions under flimsy justifications and arguments.

The ministry also demanded the British government to end its policy of double standards and immediately reverse the decision, noting it will study the effects and repercussions of the move on the Palestinian-British bilateral relations.

Furthermore, a group of Palestinian resistance factions unanimously reject the British decision against Hamas, and said the move would the Israeli regime the carte blanche to press ahead its crimes against the Palestinian nation.

“We consider this action as a direct attack on Palestinians, and an utter disregard of their legitimate rights as well as struggle for freedom from (Israeli) occupation,” they said in a statement.

The Palestinian groups then called on the British government to reverse the decision, and on the British parliament not to vote in its favor.

Additionally, the media bureau of Yemen’s popular Ansrullah resistance movement strongly denounced the proscription against Hamas.

It stated that the measure was in line with attempts aimed at normalization of diplomatic ties with the Israeli regime, was meant to liquidate the Palestinian cause, and served the interests of the occupying Israeli regime.

Ansarullah also called on Arab and Muslim nations to massively support the Palestinian cause, and to reject the criminal British measure against Hamas and oppressed Palestinian people.

For its part, Yemen's Scholars Association expressed its full solidarity with Hamas.

“It was Britain that facilitated the invasion of Palestinian lands by Zionists, and their subsequent genocide. The party which deserves to be designated as terrorist is the British government as its evil and cruel policy resulted in the creation of  the Zionist regime,” the association declared in a statement.

Yemen's Scholars Association then described the British decision as a badge of honor for Hamas, which has stood up against the ongoing Israeli atrocities.

Hayya called on the British parliament not to pass the resolution as it would increase the suffering of the Palestinian people.

He said Hamas will raise the issue with freedom-loving people across the globe and will reach out to influential figures in Britain.

The UK’s move will not change the fact that Israel is an occupying regime and that the Palestinian nation is living under occupation, Hayya said, adding the decision would provide Tel Aviv a reward for killing ordinary Palestinians, particularly women and children.

“We hope to obtain our rights without any bloodshed. However, there is no one in the world to have won their freedom without resistance. Britain will bear the brunt of any Israeli escalation as a result of its decision.”

Hayya said Hamas receives popular and international support, won an overwhelming victory in 2006 legislative elections, and the resistance movement enjoys strong support of the Palestinian society.

“We are not ashamed to say that we are resisting the occupation. Resistance is a right guarantee in accordance with international law and regulations.”


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