Peres to French FM: Name Hizbullah a Terrorist Organization
President Shimon Peres held a working meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday.
During the meeting, Peres once again brought up Israel’s demand that the European Union recognize the Lebanon-based Hizbullah as a terrorist organization.
"There is clear evidence of the responsibility of Hizbullah in the terrorist attack in Bulgaria and the organization should be included on the list of terrorist organizations,” Peres told Fabius.
Pressure on the EU to add Hizbullah to the list of recognized terror groups has increased since Bulgaria named the terror group as being behind the terrorist attack in Burgas last July, in which five Israelis were killed.
However, diplomats have indicated that it is unlikely that Europe will name Hizbullah a terrorist organization because of its political strength in Lebanon.
Shortly after the Burgas bombing, the EU decided not to list Hizbullah as a terrorist group.
During Monday’s meeting, Peres thanked Fabius for the important strategic relationship between Israel and France, saying, “The relations between Israel and France are very close and are based on close cooperation. Israel and France share the same challenge of fighting terrorism and promoting peace."
The French Foreign Minister thanked Peres and said that Israel and France are partners in their positions, and that France will not stand by in the face of terrorism. “France is unequivocal and clear in its determination to prevent terrorism and promote peace,” said Fabius.
Last week Peres held a meeting with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, during which he also urged the EU to formally label Hizbullah as a terrorist organization.
Peres told the European body at a meeting held in its Brussels headquarters that Hizbullah would only be encouraged to expand its operations unless it were labeled as a terror orgnization.
The president said Hizbullah is now intervening directly in Syria against rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, and thus is spreading its reach.
“If you do not take measures against Hizbullah, then they may think they are permitted” to do as they please, Peres said.
Peres and Fabius spoke about the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the Foreign Minister said, “France is concerned over Israel's security and hopes to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the solution of two independent states for two peoples."
The two also discussed the issue of Iran's nuclear armament, the bloodshed in Syria and the changes in the Middle East in light of the Arab Spring.
On Tuesday, Peres will conclude his visit to the EU with a foreign policy address to the plenary session of the 754-member European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
He will be the first Israeli leader to speak before the European assembly in its current format, 28 years after former Israeli President Chaim Herzog addressed an EU with only 10 member states compared to the 27 countries today.
In his speech, Peres is expected to focus on the situation in the Middle East, the peace process, the Iranian nuclear threat and relations between Israel and the European Union.
On Sunday Peres met with the heads of the Jewish community of France and with a delegation of Imams including the heads of the Egyptian, African, Moroccan and Senegalese communities and heads of central mosques.
The meeting took place the day before memorial events in France to mark one year since the terrorist attacks in Toulouse.