The EU still lists Hamas as a terrorist group, despite its General Court’s ruling Wednesday that Hamas should be removed from the official list of terrorist organizations.

"The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organization," European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. The EU General Court's decision to remove Hamas from the terrorist list, she said, ''is a legal ruling, and not a political decision taken by EU governments.''

The EU General Court ruled Wednesday that the decision to list Hamas on the 2001 terrorist list was not based on "acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities, but on factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet."

Freezes on Hamas' funds will remain in place for three months in case of any appeal, according to the Luxembourg-based general court.

''The EU institutions are studying carefully the ruling and will decide on the options open to them,'' a statement by the European Union External Action Service said. ''They will, in due course, take appropriate remedial action, including any eventual appeal to the ruling. In case of an appeal the restrictive measures remain in place.''

In December 2001, the European Council -- made up of representatives of the 28 member countries -- adopted a terrorist list requiring freezing of the funds of those people and entities listed. Hamas opposed the measures, which kept it on the list.

The General Court of the European Union’s decision to lift Hamas from the terrorist list came a few hours before the European Parliament voted Wednesday for a nonbinding resolution calling for recognition of Palestine as a state, based on peace talks that include Israel.

Israeli leaders slam EU court ruling on Hamas

Israeli leaders on Wednesday slammed a ruling by the General Court of the European Union removing Palestinian resistance movement Hamas from the EU's list of "terrorist" organizations.

"We are not satisfied with the European Union's explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations is a 'technical matter'," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued in response to Wednesday's court ruling.

"The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect it to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas – a murderous terrorist organization, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal – is an inseparable part of this list," he added.

Netanyahu vowed that his country would continue to fight Hamas with "strength and determination so that it never achieves this goal."

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, for his part, said the EU "must have lost its mind" to remove Hamas from its terror list.

The decision, he was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post, displayed "inflexibility [and] moral distortion and grants a prize to the extremist Islamic terror that is currently plaguing the entire world, including Europe itself."

Earlier Wednesday, the European court officially removed Hamas from the EU's list of "terrorist" organizations – a move hailed by the Palestinian movement as a "victory for justice."

European diplomats had been quoted by the Israeli media as saying that the court was likely to rule in Hamas' favor because the initial decision to label the resistance group a "terrorist organization" had not been taken in accordance with EU regulations.

Hamas was added to the EU's list of "terrorist" groups in 2003 after claiming responsibility for a spate of attacks on Israeli targets during the second Intifada, a popular uprising that erupted in 2000 against Israel's decades-long occupation.

Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the uprising, which finally came to an end in 2005.

Anadolu Agency