EU rejects Israeli request to blacklist Hezbollah as terrorist group
The European Union turned down a request Tuesday by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group after last week’s deadly bombing in Bulgaria.
“There is no consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations,” said Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
Israel blames Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah for Wednesday’s suicide attack at the Black Sea airport of Burgas in which five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver died.
But an EU decision would require the unanimous approval of all its 27 members.
Sitting beside the Cypriot minister at a news conference held after annual EU-Israel talks, Lieberman said: “The time has come to put Hezbollah on the terrorist list of Europe.”
“It would give the right signal to the international community and the Israeli people.”
But Kozakou-Marcoullis said Hezbollah was an organization comprising a party as well as an armed wing and was “active in Lebanese politics”.
“Taking into account this and other aspects there is no consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations,” she said.
The EU would consider this if there were tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terror, she added.
Lieberman said Israel was continuing to compile evidence from the Bulgaria attack and would onpass proof to the EU.
But in Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP that “for years we have been providing Europe with information on Hezbollah’s direct involvement in terror attacks.
“But certain states in the EU have clarified to us that because of political reasons, they prefer to not add Hezbollah to the list, despite them not disputing the evidence.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told the U.S. “Fox News Sunday” television program that he had “rock-solid” intelligence Hezbollah, backed by Iran, was responsible for the Bulgaria . Tehran has denied any involvement.
Israel has also said that the “great threat” to the Jewish state from the Syrian conflict is that the Damascus government may collapse and its stock of chemical weapons and missiles fall into the hands of Hezbollah.