resisting the requests of Israel and the United States for more than a year
after the Burgas bus bombing for which Hezbollah has been implicated as the
perpetrator, the 28-member European Union (EU) agreed to place the
“military wing” of the Lebanese group on the EU’s list of terrorist
organizations, Reuters reported.
The move will freeze assets Hezbollah may hold within the EU, but falls short of blacklisting the entire organization of Hezbollah as one entity. The EU’s designation means the body still considers the parliamentary faction of Hezbollah, which was not blacklisted, to be a separate political wing and not part of a terrorist organization.
“The EU decision to ban Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ is an important first step, but it is not nearly enough,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political wing’ has been contrived—it’s a distinction unrecognized by Hezbollah itself. Without an across-the-board designation blacklisting the entirety of Hezbollah, this could prove to be only little more than a symbolic move without the power to significantly curtail the operations of the terrorist organization.”
Paul Charney, chairman of Zionist Federation UK, said he is “left questioning” about the rest of Hezbollah following the EU designation on only its military wing.
“Since it is and always has been a single organic terrorist organization, then how does this help?” Charney said. “Only the EU has made this irrelevant distinction and should proscribe Hezbollah immediately in its entirety.”
The Anti-Defamation League said the “partial blacklisting of Hezbollah would be largely ineffectual, because law enforcement will not be able to comprehensively target Hezbollah’s financial activities in Europe.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said, “While AJC, like the U.S., Canadian and Dutch governments, considers Hezbollah a single organization, we applaud this decision and the spotlight it shines on Hezbollah terrorist activity.”
Blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing required unanimous approval among the EU’s members, but nations such as Austria, the Czech Republic and Ireland had up to this point refused to back a British proposal to do so.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev last week offered his country’s latest affirmation that Hezbollah was behind the attack that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver on July 18, 2012, at Burgas Airport. On the one-year anniversary of the attack, Yovchev said there are “clear signs that say Hezbollah is behind the Burgas bombing,” adding that Bulgaria’s new Socialist government, since taking office in late May, has received more information implicating Hezbollah in the attack.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livini said, “After years of deliberations and going back and forth on the matter, the argument that Hezbollah was a political movement and their attempt to whitewash their terrorist activity has failed.”
In light of the move to blacklist Hezbollah, EU governments are likely to pledge continued dialogue with all political groups in Lebanon, Reuters reported.
“A few member states wanted to be reassured that such a decision [to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing] will not in any way jeopardize political dialogue,” said a senior EU official.