The Palestine Liberation Organization on Thursday condemned the United States’ decision to add the head of the Hamas terror group, Ismail Haniyeh, to its terror blacklist.
“The PLO rejects and condemns the decision,” PLO’s secretary general Saeb Erekat said in a statement on the Fatah party’s official Facebook page.
Erekat also called for solving the problems causing division between Fatah and Hamas, in order to achieve national unity and “preserve the Palestinian national project.”
Israel welcomed the American move.
Yuval Rotem, director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, called the US State Department’s move an “important decision.”
It is “a welcome and necessary step in the fight against global terrorism. More crucial American leadership which other countries should follow,” Rotem wrote on Twitter.
On Wednesday, the US put the 55-year-old Haniyeh, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017, on its terror list and slapped sanctions on him.
“Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’s military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians,” the State Department said in a statement following the decision. “He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.”
The US Treasury sanctions blacklist now freezes any US-based assets Haniyeh may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him.
Hamas, which is sworn to destroy Israel and has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, has been on the US terror blacklist since 1997.
The US decision to put Haniyeh on its terror blacklist will not affect Hamas’s activities, the movement said Wednesday. “It is a failed attempt to pressure the resistance,” said a statement from the group. “This decision will not deter us from continuing the resistance option to expel the occupation.”
Haniyeh replaced Khaled Mashaal, who now lives in Doha in exile, atop the Hamas movement. Unlike Mashaal, Haniyeh will remain in the Gaza Strip.
Also known as Abu Abed, Haniyeh was born in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp in January 1963 to parents who fled when Israel was created in 1948.
Hamas has frequently highlighted his modest background as a counterpoint to officials within Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, who have been accused of being corrupt and too easily compliant with Israel or the United States.