Priti Patel To Announce Plan To Make Support For Hamas Illegal

Supporters of Hamas could face up to 14 years in jail under plans to be announced on Friday by Priti Patel.

The home secretary said the organisation will be proscribed by the government under the Terrorism Act. It means anyone who expresses support for Hamas, flies their flag or arranges meetings for the organisation will be in breach of the law.

Patel hopes to push through the change in parliament next week in a move she says will help to combat antisemitism.

She told reporters in Washington DC: “We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side.

“It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself.”

Until now, the UK has banned only its military wing – the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Patel will make the announcement in a speech on security in Washington on Friday. She will say it is a vital step towards protecting the Jewish community.

“Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic,” she is to say. “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.”

Hamas has already been designated an outlawed terrorist organisation by the US, Canada and the EU, meaning that its assets can be seized and its members jailed.

Founded in 1987, Hamas holds a majority in the parliament of the Palestinian Authority and is the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamic groups. Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, described Hamas as friends in 2009 although he later said that he regretted using the term.

Its name is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, and it was formed after the beginning of the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under its charter, it is committed to the destruction of Israel.

Hamas’s 1988 charter defines Palestine – including present-day Israel – as Islamic land and it rules out any permanent peace with the Jewish state. The document also repeatedly makes attacks on Jews as a people, drawing charges that the movement is antisemitic.

In 2017, a new policy document stopped short of recognising Israel, but formally accepted the creation of an interim Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The document also said that Hamas’s struggle is with “occupying Zionist aggressors”, not Jews.

Patel told reporters on Thursday night that proscribing Hamas would send a “very, very strong message to any individual that thinks that it’s OK to be a supporter of an organisation such as that”.

In her speech in Washington, where she has been visiting senior members of Joe Biden’s administration, Patel is expected to say: “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 the organisation – 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.”