British government officials said on Saturday they would work to have Lebanese-based Hezbollah added to a list of terrorist organizations maintained by the European Union. The officials called on other EU members to join the campaign, after years in which European nations refused to act because of their insistence that Hezbollah was an important political party in Lebanon.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday that the EU had to reassess its position in light of the July 18 terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.
"We have worked on this issue in Britain and I would like to see the EU take action against the military wing of Hezbollah," Hague said at a conference of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus.
A similar call to have Hezbollah blacklisted came from The Netherlands over the weekend.
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the EU to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. At a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Europe could do more to advance peace and security by declaring Hezbollah, Iran's proxy, a terrorist organization.
Netanyahu told Terzi that Hezbollah was the "largest terrorist organization in the world, and Europe can contribute a lot by making that declaration."
"We are facing great challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenge that the international community is facing is Iran's quest for nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said. "I think that the international community must set a clear red line for Iran that it knows that it cannot go beyond in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and I think that as hard as it is, the economic sanctions have to be intensified. We appreciate the efforts that you have made and that others in Europe are making. There is one other effort that I think Europe could make to advance the cause of security and peace, and that is to declare Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization."
On July 25, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman pressed EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to include Hezbollah on the EU's list of terrorist organizations. At a meeting in Brussels, Lieberman warned that the issue would have implications for the stability of the Middle East and global security as long as Hezbollah was excluded from the list.
The EU's position on Hezbollah was laid out a day earlier by Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, who said that the organization “comprises a political party [and a] social services network, as well as an armed wing.” She said there was “no consensus among the EU member states for putting Hezbollah on its terrorist list. Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism, the EU would consider listing the organization.”