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Israel awaits results of Burgas bomb probe

February 5, 2013 07:13

Jerusalem links Hezbollah and Iran to July 2012 terror attack that killed five Israelis, hopes for Sofia’s corroboration.

Relatives of a victim of the Burgas bomb attack

Burgas Memorial (R370). (photo credit:REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov is scheduled to release a much-anticipated report in Sofia on Tuesday regarding who his country believes is responsible for the July 18, 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver.

Details of the investigation were shared with Israeli officials last month when Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov paid a one-day surprise visit to Jerusalem, during which he met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

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One diplomatic official, who refused to comment on the report before it was released, said that as a result of Mladenov’s visit, Israel “would not be surprised” by the findings.

He said Israel would be paying close attention not only to what the Bulgarians said in the report, but also to what the rest of the EU would do with the findings.

Israel linked Hezbollah and Iran to the attack immediately following the bombing, with Netanyahu saying at the time, “I know, based on absolutely rock solid intelligence, this is Hezbollah, and this is something Iran knows about very, very well.”

He said that Jerusalem knew without “a shred of doubt” that the attack was carried out “with the encouragement, at the behest and coordination of Iran.”

If Bulgaria does point an accusatory finger at Hezbollah in the report, it is likely to increase pressure on the EU to add the organization to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations. Doing so would render illegal any financial transfer from the EU to Hezbollah or any member of that organization.

Israeli officials, however, were skeptical of this eventuality, saying a consensus of all 27 EU countries was necessary to place Hezbollah on the EU’s blacklist, and France would likely block such a move because of concern about losing historic influence and diplomatic leverage in Lebanon.

Last July, shortly after the bombing and strong Israeli pressure for the EU to blacklist Hezbollah, Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country at the time held the EU’s rotating presidency, said, “The Lebanese Hezbollah is an organization that comprises a political party [and a] social services network, as well as an armed wing. Hezbollah is active in Lebanese politics, including the parliament and the government, and plays a specific role with regard to the status quo in Lebanon.”

Taking this and other aspects into account, she said, there is “no consensus among the EU member states for putting Hezbollah on the terrorist list of the organization. Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism, the EU would consider listing the organization.”
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