Israel on Friday praised the United Kingdom’s planned move to designate the entirety of Hamas as a terror organization and outlaw support for the group.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked UK Home Secretary Priti Patel after she announced Friday that the British government intends to eliminate the distinction between the group’s political and military wings.
“This is an important and significant decision that gives British security bodies additional tools to prevent the continued buildup of the Hamas terror organization, including in Britain,” Lapid said.
“There is no legitimate part to a terror organization and any attempt to separate parts of a terror organization is artificial,” the foreign minister added.
The decision was also cheered by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“Hamas is a terror organization, plain and simple. The ‘political wing’ enables its military activity. The same terrorists — only in suits,” Bennett tweeted.
Bennett thanked his counterpart, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “leadership on the subject.”
Patel, who is in charge of law and order issues, said on Twitter that she had “acted to proscribe Hamas 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
She said the group “has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”
“This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community,” Patel said Friday during a speech in Washington. “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that the move “will help tackle the scourge of antisemitism.”
A ban, which must be approved by Parliament, would make it illegal in Britain to be a member of Hamas or to express support for the group, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
The government said it hoped the banning order would be approved by Parliament within the week and take effect November 26.
Since 2001, the UK has recognized the Hamas military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — as a terror organization, but not its political arm, which rules Gaza.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, Patel said that distinction was no longer defensible.
“We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side,” she said, according to The Guardian. “It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself.”
Patel further outlined her reasons in a speech in Washinton, DC later Friday, saying the outlawing of the terror group aims to make Britain’s Jews feel more secure.
“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 said.
“But the current listing of Hamas creates an artificial distinction between various parts of the organization — it is right that the listing is updated to reflect this. This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”
“Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe — at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online.
“This step will strengthen the case against anyone who waves a Hamas flag in the United Kingdom, an act that is bound to make Jewish people feel unsafe,” she said.
Both the United States and European Union have designated Hamas a terror organization. The terror group, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, has initiated multiple wars with Israel in the past decade and fired thousands of rockets at civilian cities.