European Union nations are divided going into fresh talks this week on whether to add Hizbullah’s so-called “military wing” to its list of terrorist groups, diplomatic sources told AFP on Monday.
EU ambassadors are set to discuss the issue on Thursday after counter-terrorist experts from the bloc's 28 member states twice failed last month to reach a unanimous decision to blacklist the Lebanese Shiite group.
Unanimity is required to add the group to the dozen people and score of groups currently on the EU international terrorist list and subject to an asset freeze. The Hamas terror organization and Colombia's FARC guerrillas are among those on the list.
EU diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that Austria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia had not signed on so far to a push led by Britain, France and the Netherlands to blacklist the group.
A diplomat from a country supporting the move said a "consensus is clearly building" given that "the evidence that it committed terrorism on EU soil is strong."
Others, however, were not so sure. One EU source told AFP the new Czech foreign minister had offered no indication so far of Prague changing its mind, and a diplomat said Austria was still mulling the issue.
Concerns over Hizbullah have mounted 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.
Hizbullah’s growing involvement in the Syrian conflict in recent months has further worried EU nations. At the same time, many view Hizbullah as a legitimate political party in Lebanon.
Should ambassadors fail again to reach agreement this week, the matter could go to foreign ministers who gather on Monday in Brussels.