JERUSALEM, Israel – The United Kingdom said on Friday that it intends to designate Hamas as a terror organization.
The UK currently considers Hamas’ military wing to be a terror group, but this new decision will brand the entire organization as a terror entity.
During a speech in Washington on Friday, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said there was no distinction between Hamas’ political and military wings.
"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. But the current listing of Hamas creates an artificial distinction between various parts of that organization. It is right that that list is updated to reflect this," she said.
The decision to outlaw the group means that anyone who expresses support for Hamas, flies its flag, or holds a meeting for the group could face up to 14 years in prison. The terror destination also means its assets must be seized, members face imprisonment, and companies are banned from doing business with the group.
Patel told reporters on Thursday that designating Hamas would send a “very, very strong message to any individual that thinks that it’s OK to be a supporter of an organization such as that.”
In her speech on Friday, Patel described Hamas as “fundamentally and rabidly anti-Semitic."
“Anti-Semitism 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,” she said.
The move is intended to help combat anti-Semitism in the UK.
“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 will say. “This is an important step, especially for the Jewish community. If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security.”
Britain said it hoped the banning order would be approved by Parliament within the week and take effect Nov. 26.