US adds Hamas leader to terrorist list

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The U.S. State Department on Wednesday added Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh into its terrorist list.

Haniyeh, leader and chief of the Political Bureau of Hamas, was designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) together with three other groups.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City, on Jan. 23, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

All of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. They will also be denied of access to the U.S. financial system.

Islamic Hamas movement slammed on Wednesday the U.S. decision to list Hamas politburo chief among the terrorist list. The movement's leaders said they considered the U.S. decision as "ridiculous."

It was a failed attempt to keep pressure on the Palestinian armed resistance, Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem said in an emailed statement.

"This will never break our determination to carry on with resistance and stick to it until getting rid of the Israeli occupation," said Qassem.

Hamas was designated in 1997 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and in 2001 as an SDGT by the United States.

U.S. State Department said Haniyeh "has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens."

It added that Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.

The Trump administration has increased its rhetoric against the Palestinian side to pressure it back to negotiating table with Israel, freezing aid to the Palestinian refugees.

In December, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and announced to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, sparking global outrage and condemnation.

In response, Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, said that such statements "humiliated Muslims, Christians and Jews all over the world."

"Those who believe that the Jerusalem issue was removed from the negotiations table, should know that peace was also removed from the table," said Erekat, adding that "his remarks clearly show that he can never be a relevant sponsor to peace."

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on Jan. 24 its rejection to any U.S. peace initiatives unless the U.S. administration retracts its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"The Americans can no longer serve as an honest broker in the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel after its illegal declaration of Jerusalem," Saeb Erekat said in a press interview.

In April 2014, nine months of direct peace talks between Israel and Palestinians sponsored by the United States ended without any breakthrough due to deep differences on Israeli settlements and the recognition of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. 

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