The federal government will list the entirety of Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation, including its political wing.
- The Palestinian group’s militant arm was already designated a terrorist group
- Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the views of Hamas were “deeply disturbing”
- Three other groups, including a US-based far-right organisation, will also be listed for the first time
The military wing of Hamas was already listed by Australia, but the federal government will now join the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel and others in extending the designation to the fundamentalist Islamic group’s political branch.
Hamas holds a majority in the parliament of the Palestinian National Authority.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the views of Hamas were “deeply disturbing”.
“There is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies,” Ms Andrews said.
“It is vital that our laws target not only terrorist acts and terrorists, but also the organisations that plan, finance and carry out these acts.”
The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) says it “strongly disagrees” with the listing, adding that it will do nothing to advance the cause of peace.
The group has raised concerns that it will only “cause more suffering for the 2 million people currently surviving under a 15-year Israeli blockade”.
“The government has failed in its duty of searching for a peaceful solution and has shown it applies one set of rules to Palestine, and another to Israel,” APAN president Bishop George Browning said.
“The entire process leading up to this designation has been led by those who have a political barrow to push, with only pro-Israeli groups being sought out for evidence.”
Anyone guilty of terrorist organisation offences, including being a member, recruiting, receiving training or acquiring funds for a terrorist organisation can face imprisonment for up to 25 years.
Founded in 1987, Hamas — full name Islamic Resistance Movement — opposes the existence of Israel and peace talks, instead advocating “armed resistance” against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Its leaders have previously described terrorist designations as revealing a “bias toward the Israeli occupation”.
Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) welcomed the move, saying they “warmly commend the government” on its decision.
“Hamas political leaders have overseen and participated directly in terrorist operations and activities. They have admitted in a variety of contexts that Hamas’s military wing is subordinate to the political leadership,” he said.
“Extending the listing to Hamas in its entirety was overdue but very welcome.”
The parliamentary committee on intelligence and security made the recommendation that the listing be expanded to the whole of Hamas in a report in October last year.
The ECAJ had made written and oral submissions to the parliamentary inquiry.
The federal government has also newly listed three other organisations as terrorist groups: Sunni Islamist militant group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Al Qaeda affiliate Hurras al-Din and the extreme right-wing US group National Socialist Order.
Late last year, Australia listed white supremacist group The Base as a terrorist organisation, making it a criminal offence to be a member.
The entirety of Hezbollah — a Shia Islamist militant group based in Lebanon but active abroad — was also listed at the same time.
Earlier in 2021, Sonnenkrieg Division, a UK-based neo-Nazi group, became the first right-wing extremist group to be formally listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia.