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U.S. sanctions Hamas chief; lists him on terror list

U.S. sanctions Hamas chief; lists him on terror list

Haniya is now on the US Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any US-based assets he may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, told Reuters on Wednesday that the usa terrorist designation of Haniyeh was "worthless".

The U.S. State Department said in a press release it has designated Haniyeh, as well as the jihadist groups Harakat al-Sabireen, Liwa al Thawra and Harakat Sawa'd Misr (HASM) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

The 55-year-old Haniya, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017, represents the more pragmatic wing of the movement, which said the United States move would not deter the group's "resistance".

"These designations target key terrorist groups and leaders ... who are threatening the stability of the Middle East", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. "This designation allows us to dry up the sources of funding and kick them out of the global financial system".

Another implication of Haniyeh's designation is that it shows that the US will not support unity efforts between Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas.

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Hamas, which has been on a U.S. terror blacklist since 1997, brushed off the announcement as a "failed attempt to pressure the resistance". On the designation of Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra, Mr Schanzer noted that "these two groups meet criteria for terrorism" following the attacks for which they claimed responsibility last summer.

"This decision will not deter us from continuing the resistance option to expel the occupation", it said in a statement.

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 a major break with decades of U.S. policy, Trump announced on December 6 that the U.S. formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on January 24 its rejection to any USA peace initiatives unless the US administration retracts its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. They said that the Palestinian people are not waiting for a good behaviour certificate to receive from the Americans.

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