One of the unsung heroes of the effort to put Hizbullah's “military wing” on a European Union blacklist was none other than former Hollywood actor and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a letter, Schwarzenegger convinced Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann to instruct the country's Foreign Minister to cast Austria's vote for the blacklist proposal, something that neither Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu nor President Shimon Peres were able to do.
Austria, along with several other countries, including Greece, Malta, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, were still “on the fence” last week when it came to the decision to blacklist Hizbullah. In order for the terror group to enter the list, which would require the EU to impose sanctions on the terror group, seize its bank accounts, and arrest its members, a unanimous vote was required. In the end, there were several abstentions, but the measure was passed anyway, on the condition that the decision be revisited in six months.
Israel intensively lobbied all the countries that were not on board with the resolution, but several, including Austria, remained adamant that Hizbullah not be included on the list, with the claim that doing so would “impede dialog” in the Middle East and further divide Lebanon. Last week, Lebanese leaders appealed to the EU to keep Hizbullah off the list, saying that doing so was “vital” for Lebanon's interests.
The contents of Schwarzenegger's letter were not fully revealed, but reports said that he referred to the group's incessant rocket attacks against Israel. Given its history, Schwarzenegger is said to have written, Austria had a responsibility to Israel to help its people live in peace, regardless of the politics of the region.