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EU Not Likely to Name Hizbullah a Terror Organization

EU sources say it is unlikely that Hizbullah will be designated a terrorist organization despite its involvement in the Bulgaria attack.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/17/2013, 5:39 AM

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech from an undisclosed location
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech from an undisclosed location
AFP/Manar TV

The European Union is unlikely to designate Hizbullah a terrorist organization, despite the fact that its member Bulgaria has fingered the group as being behind the attack in Burgas last year, Kol Yisrael radio reported on Saturday.

Sources in the EU told the radio station that if the necessary evidence to prove that Hizbullah was involved in the Burgas attack is presented, the tendency is to slap sanctions specifically on those involved in the attack, but not to declare that Hizbullah as a whole is a terrorist organization.

According to Kol Yisrael, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said on Saturday that the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union may discuss on Monday the option of taking action against Hizbullah, following Bulgaria's report about the investigation of the Burgas attack.

At the same time, Lalliot said, so far Bulgaria has only presented information that is based on assumptions, and a discussion on naming Hizbullah a terrorist organization can take place only on the basis of evidence. If there were such evidence, he said, it will be possible to discuss among other things adding Hizbullah to the list of recognized terrorist organizations.

Bulgaria's announcement that Hizbullah was being the attack in Burgas led to renewed calls from Washington and Israel on the 27-nation European Union to designate the group a "terrorist" organization.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the EU to follow Washington's lead by designating Hizbullah as terrorists in a move that will notably lead to a crackdown on its fund-raising activities.

Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov reiterated on Friday his belief that two of the attackers in the bombing are part of Hizbullah, noting that naming the group as being behind the attack was not done under pressure.

Shortly after the Burgas bombing, the EU decided not to list Hizbullah as a terrorist group.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Gujarat Cossack-Marcolis said at the time that "there is no consensus on the issue, because Hizbullah also has an active political arm."

She added that the matter is open for reconsideration if "tangible evidence" that Hizbullah is involved in terrorist activity can be brought.

Polish MEP Michal Tomasz Kaminski on Thursday called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to step up Europe’s efforts to designate Hizbullah a terrorist organization.

Kaminski asked in a letter to Ashton why the EU remains “reluctant to call Hizbulllah by its proper name”, after Ashton’s official response to the Burgas findings expressed “the need for a reflection over the outcome of the investigation.”

On Friday, British Foreign Minister William Hague called on the EU to take "robust action" in response to the Burgas bombing.

The European Jewish Press (EJP) quoted Hague as having urged the EU "to ensure that organizations like Hizbullah can't carry out attacks on European soil without consequences."