The UK government announced on Friday that it is seeking to proscribe Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Hamas calls for the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state under Sharia law and has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. It has long been involved in significant terrorist violence.
Hamas’ military wing is already banned in the UK, but following a new assessment, Home Secretary Priti Patel concluded it should be proscribed in its entirety.
Today I have taken action to proscribe Hamas in its entirety.
This government is committed to tackling extremism and terrorism wherever it occurs. pic.twitter.com/TQfPzomyIm
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) November 19, 2021
If approved by Parliament, the order will come into force on Nov. 26, the Home Office said.
If the changes go ahead, anyone who expresses support for the organisation, which controls the Gaza Strip, will be in breach of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Illegal actions will include arranging meetings for the group, flying their flag, or wearing clothing that is seen to support them.
“Today the UK government has laid an order in Parliament to proscribe Hamas in its entirety—including its political wing,” Patel, who is on a visit to Washington, will say in a keynote speech later on Friday at the Heritage Foundation.
“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry as well as terrorist training facilities, and it has long been involved in significant terrorist violence,” she is expected to say. “Hamas commits, participates, prepares for, and promotes and encourages terrorism. If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”
When Hamas’ military wing was banned by the UK in March 2001, it was the government’s assessment that there was a distinction between the political and military wings of the terrorist group. But the Home Office said that this distinction is now assessed to be “artificial.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss expressed her support for the move, saying on Twitter that the move will “help tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”
Earlier this year, British politicians across the political spectrum condemned a surge of anti-Semitic abuse and violence following the Middle East conflict in May, in which the Israeli military attacked targets in Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks on civilian areas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament at the time that Britain would call out anti-Semitic behaviour at every stage. “We will not let it take root, we will not allow it to grow and fester,” he said.
PA contributed to this report.