Government to announce shortly if it will designate Hamas' political arm a terrorist group

The Foreign Affairs Minister says the Prime Minister will soon be making an announcement on the Government's response to advice on whether to declare the political arm of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.  

In the wake of the October 7 incursion into Israel by Hamas, which led to the deaths of about 1200 people, then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for advice on whether the political wing of Hamas should be declared a terrorist group.  

The military wing of Hamas – the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades - was designated as a terrorist entity in 2010 by the previous National Government. All other Five Eyes countries, like the United States and Australia, have previously declared Hamas in its entirety a terrorist group.  

Asked by Newshub about whether that advice had yet been received, Winston Peters on Monday evening said, "that is, yes, advanced".

"It is in the bailiwick of the Prime Minister to make that statement. I think you are going to be hearing an announcement before too long.   

"I can't say when, because of the slight hiccups we have got here with parliamentary organisation, by occasion sadly of Efeso's death and other things. So something that may have been announced some time, or a little while ago, may be delayed, but it should be sooner rather than later now."  

The House rose last Wednesday following the sudden death of Green MP Efeso Collins and didn't sit on Thursday as it would have usually done. It will return on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, but on Thursday, it may sit with fewer MPs to allow politicians to go to Collins' funeral. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Tuesday said the Government would have more to say "shortly".   

Last year, Greens co-leader Marama Davidson suggested that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) should also be subject to a terrorist assessment, arguing in a debate that it had caused "decades of violence".  

Co-leader James Shaw on Tuesday said it shouldn't matter what the groups are called, the focus should be on actions.  

"The point she was making is that it is never okay for anybody to target civilians and it isn't. The IDF's actions have been targeting civilians, they are completely disproportionate to the actions Hamas initiated a couple of months ago."  

He said people were being slaughtered.  

"I don't particularly care what you call it, what you need to do is focus on stopping the slaughter." 

Israel's retaliation to the Hamas attack has included air strikes against densely populated Palestinian centres. According to Gazan health officials, Israel's assault has killed about 30,000 Palestinians.  

Despite international warnings to keep its response proportional, Israel has committed to continuing its offensive to eradicate Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip.  

In a joint statement with the Prime Ministers of Australia and Canada earlier this month, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon expressed grave concerns about indications that Israel was planning a ground offensive into the Gazan city of Rafah.  

The Prime Ministers said this would be "catastrophic" as about 1.5 million Palestinians are taking refuse there without anywhere else to go.  

"We are clear that a sustainable ceasefire is necessary to finding a path towards securing lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Any ceasefire cannot be one sided. Hamas must lay down its arms and release all hostages immediately. We again unequivocally condemn Hamas for its terror attacks on Israel on October 7."   

The International Court of Justice in January said Israel should take all possible measures to prevent genocidal acts and ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian aid to those in Gaza. 

Hamas was declared a terrorist organisation in its entirety by Australia in 2022. Then-Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the group's views were "deeply disturbing".  

Until November 2021, the United Kingdom only recognised the military wing of Hamas as a terrorist group. However, it then decided "the approach of distinguishing between the various parts of Hamas is artificial".   

"Hamas is a complex but single terrorist organisation."