President Shimon Peres commended the European Union’s partial ban of the Hizbullah terrorist organization Monday as a “necessary, wise step” aimed, he said, at “preventing the spread of terrorism” in every corner of the earth.
The EU’s 28 member nations decided in a majority vote that was not unanimous to list the organization as a terrorist entity – a compromise on strong requests from Israel and the U.S. to list the entire group as a terror organization. Peres said in his response to the vote, “Your decision sends a determined message to terrorist organizations and countries that sponsor terrorist groups in their territory.”
The president sent a special communique to the member governments and institutions who had attended the meeting in which the vote was cast, expressing Israel’s gratitude for the EU’s support in the fight against terrorism.
“This is a necessary, wise step that is aimed at preventing the spread of terrorism that is not just limited to the Middle East, but does damage in every corner of the earth, including European soil,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, we saw this last year after the murderous attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, as well as attempts to harm innocent European civilians in large cities throughout the continent.”
Also praising the vote was Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. "Finally, after years of deliberations, the claim that Hizbullah is a legitimate political party has rightfully failed. Now it is clear to the entire world that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization", she said in a statement.
Livni's initial statement did not mention the fact that the EU refused to include Hizbullah's political arm in the list of terror groups.
Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, however, was less than happy with that fact. "As is their habit,” he said, “the Europeans contented themselves with going only half way and reaching a partial and unsatisfactory decision. The military and political arms of Hizbullah are two sides of the same coin,” he explained. Both arms are headed by the same person – Hassan Nasrallah. Portraying the organization as having a “moderate” wing and a “militant” wing is like saying that a cannibal can also be a vegetarian, he added.
Arab nations in the Gulf were ahead of the Europe in discussions to label Hizbullah as a terrorist entity, and the nation of Bahrain has already done so, having blacklisted the terrorist group in April.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman announced last week that they were willing to blacklist Hizbullah as well, but were examining “correct procedures” on how to officially carry out the measure in order to prevent discrimination against Lebanese citizens who are not members of the terrorist group.
Hizbullah operatives have been caught in illegal activities as far away as South America, where the terrorist organization is involved in illicit drug operations to raise money for the guerrilla warfare it wages against Israel.
The group has also set up terrorist training bases in the Sinai Peninsula, and has been involved in training operatives in Gaza.