Due to the opposition of countries such as France and Italy, the 27-member European Union is unlikely to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization despite the Bulgarian investigation that implicated the group in last summer’s bombing of a tour bus carrying Israelis, AFP reported.
The EU’s top counter-terrorism official, Gilles de Kerchove, had told EUobserver last month that a conclusion by the Bulgarian investigation that Hezbollah was the perpetrator would not automatically lead to Hezbollah being placed on the EU’s terrorism blacklist.
“First, we need to reach conclusions with strong evidence that it was the military wing of Hezbollah. That’s the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after the Bulgarian findings were released, urged global governments “and particularly our partners in Europe” to “take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah.” But Italy, Cyprus and Malta are all influencing French opposition to taking action against Hezbollah, according to AFP, with Italy’s desire stemming from the fact that it is a major contributor to the United Nations peace force in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, wrote in a column for EUobserver that the EU in its refusal to blacklist Hezbollah “has refused to declare the obvious, often defending its intransigence by claiming Hezbollah has two distinct faces: a ‘political’ wing and a ‘military’ faction.”
“But using Hezbollah’s seats in Lebanon’s government is a false excuse to grant these terrorists any semblance of legitimacy,” Mariaschin wrote. “Does anybody believe that the ‘military’ and ‘political’ branches of Hezbollah are located on different planets?”
“Sadly, it seems even the attack in Bulgaria may not be enough for the EU to do the right thing,” he added.