Hamas blasted the European Union's decision Monday to appeal to keep it on the EU's official terrorist organization blacklist.
"The European Union's insistence on keeping Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations is an immoral step, and reflects the EU's total bias in favor of the Israeli occupation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
"It provides it [Israel] with the cover for its crimes against the Palestinian people," he added.
Foreign ministers from the 28 EU member states made the decision to appeal the European Court of Justice's December 17 ruling, the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday.
Mogherini stated "this ruling was clearly based on procedural grounds and did not imply any assessment by the court of the merits of designating the Hamas as a terrorist organization."
Hamas was blacklisted in 2003 following a push by Israel and the United States to have the radical terror group – whose platform includes pledges to destroy Israel and calls for a genocide against the Jewish people – recognized as such in Europe.
The decision to remove Hamas from the list was said to have been the result of a "technicality," with it being claimed that the group's inclusion in the list was against EU procedures and without sufficient evidence.
The court ruled that blacklisting Hamas was not based on sound legal judgments but conclusions derived from the media.
Hamas, for its part, has been appealing against its inclusion on the blacklist for years.
The US responded with condemnation to the initial ruling, urging the EU to continue its sanctions on Hamas, and noting that the US position "had not changed" and that Hamas remains a "designated foreign terrorist organization."
Israel, who also slammed the December ruling, said Monday they were not surprised by the EU's latest move.
"It's not a surprise, we're happy. We expected them to do this in the first place," a foreign ministry official said.
"We do expect that they will correct this procedural error that was identified," he added.
The EU ministers made the decision at a meeting in Brussels, where they were discussing ways to boost cooperation in the face of growing Islamist terrorism.