EU refuses Israeli request to blacklist Hezbollah

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman looks on during a press conference with the Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister, the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement, and the European Neighborhood Policy adviser, on 24 July 2012, at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. (Photo: AFP - Georges Gobet)

Published Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The European Union turned down a request Tuesday by far-right Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to blacklist Hezbollah as a terror group after last week's deadly bombing in Bulgaria.

"There is no consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations," said Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

Israel blamed Iran and the Lebanon's Hezbollah for Wednesday's suicide attack at the Black Sea airport of Burgas in which five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver died. Iran denied involvement.

Sitting alongside the Cypriot minister at a news conference held after annual EU-Israel talks, Lieberman said: "The time has come to put Hezbollah on the terrorist list of Europe."

"It would give the right signal to the international community and the Israeli people."

But Kozakou-Marcoullis rejected Lieberman's remarks, saying that Hezbollah was an organization comprising a party as well as an armed wing and was "active in Lebanese politics."

"Taking into account this and other aspects there is no consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations," she said.

The EU would consider this if there were tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terror, she added.

Israel regularly blames Hezbollah for terrorist acts, without producing evidence to back its claims.

The Jewish state has succeeded, nevertheless, to pressure the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands into blacklisting Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Britain and Australia have listed only Hezbollah's military wing as such, while Egypt and Bahrain are the only Arab states to consider Lebanon's most powerful political party a terrorist group.

Hezbollah successfully fought Israel's occupation of south Lebanon using guerrilla warfare, eventually forcing Israel to withdraw in 2000. The two sides fought another war in July 2006, with Hezbollah thwarting an Israeli attempt to invade Lebanon.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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