The European Union failed on Thursday to blacklist Hizbullah as a terrorist group, fearing that such a move would lead to instability in Lebanon and the Middle East, Al Arabiya reported.
Britain’s drive to reach a unanimous decision to blacklist Lebanon's powerful Shiite group has failed to persuade the 27-nation bloc, diplomatic sources said.
AFP reported that Austria and the Czech Republic opposed the move to add Hizbullah to the EU terrorist list, which includes several groups such as Hamas and Colombia's FARC guerrillas, who are subject to an asset freeze.
Concerns over Hizbullah began in Europe since an attack last year on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria which Sofia blamed on the group. In March, a Cyprus court sentenced a Hizbullah member to four years behind bars for planning attacks there.
The involvement of Hizbullah in the Syrian conflict raised the EU’s concerns after terrorists belonging to the Shiite group were found to be engaging in battles between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the country’s opposition.
However, EU counter-terror specialists met on the issue but failed to reach unanimity on blacklisting the group after objections from several countries.
France, Germany and the Netherlands have backed Britain in seeking to blacklist Hizbullah. Despite being backed by the majority of the 27 EU member states, unanimity is needed to support the proposal.
Countries rejecting Britain’s move said they feared to destabilize the politically fragile Lebanon, where Hizbullah is in the government.
MK Avigdor Lieberman (Likud-Yisrael Beytenu) said last week that the EU is irrelevant when it comes to dealing with the Middle East because of its failure to blacklist Hizbullah as a terrorist organization.
Lieberman sent a harshly worded letter to the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, in which he protested the fact that there was no progress during discussions last week to blacklist Hizbullah.
“The exclusion of an organization, which incites to and is actively involved in murder and hatred, on the list of terrorist organizations is hypocrisy which cries out to the heavens. It begs the question as to what other requirements, beyond the facts that are well known, are necessary for Hizbullah’s inclusion,” Lieberman wrote Ashton.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who met Ashton on Thursday, said, "I hope that those in Europe who refuse to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization will change their mind, and I hope there will be a European consensus on this.”
"I mean, it’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. If Hizbullah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t what is a terrorist organization," he said pointedly.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)