A proscription order to recognise Hamas as a terrorist organisation was brought to the British Parliament on November 19 and, subject to approval, will come into force on November 26.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday that support to the Palestinian movement Hamas should be outlawed, and the entire organisation should be labelled a terrorist organisation. “Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities,” Patel said in a statement. “That is why today I have acted to proscribe Hamas in its entirety.”
The proscription makes it criminal to be a member of or invite support to the Palestinian political party Hamas or its militant wing. Those found guilty of doing so may receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Under the terrorism act of 2000, in the past twenty years, the UK already considered Hamas’ military wing a terrorist group, yet made a distinction between the political and military wings.
According to Patel, the move is intended to bring Britain into line with the United States and the European Union, which both recognise Hamas as a terrorist group.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomes the decision, stating that it gives an additional tool to prevent the build-up of the Hamas terrorist organisation in Britain.
Nevertheless, it drew widespread condemnation among Palestinians, who argue that it threatens unity. Sources say it may backfire, increasing Hamas’ popularity among Palestinians and others. However, it could also pressure the organisation’s leaders to display more flexibility in their policies and actions.