Dutch FM: EU may blacklist Hezbollah after probe
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Dutch foreign minister stresses Netherlands' position on Lebanese organization, says Burgas findings will lead to blacklisting.
BERLIN – The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans stressed on Monday
the Dutch position that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and ought to be
banned from European soil.
Separately, former Dutch foreign minister Uri
Rosenthal outlined to The Jerusalem Post the mixed views about outlawing
Hezbollah within the 27- member European Union.
“Hezbollah is a terrorist
organization,” Timmermans said in a statement issued by the Dutch Embassy in Israel .
“Frans Timmermans has expressed concern at the findings of
Bulgaria’s investigation into the deadly attack on a bus carrying Israeli
tourists in Burgas in July 2012. Bulgaria concluded that the military wing of
Hezbollah was responsible.
Mr. Timmermans sees this as confirmation of
the Netherlands’ position that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.
need to meet at EU level as soon as possible to discuss what consequences this
should have,” the statement continued.
“This is the first time that an EU
member state has established that Hezbollah is guilty of a terrorist attack on
EU territory,” Timmermans said.
He expressed confidence that “Bulgaria’s
findings will quickly lead to fresh consultations in Brussels on designating
Hezbollah a terrorist organization.”
The Dutch Embassy statement said,
“The Netherlands has been calling for Hezbollah to be included on the EU list of
terrorist organizations since 2004, and has consistently urged its EU partners
to support such a move.”
Rosenthal said during a telephone interview with
the Post on Monday, “My assessment would be, the pressure to do something about
Hezbollah is on the increase. On the other hand, there will be some hesitation
to do what the Dutch government did.”
The Netherlands is the only
European Union country to have banned Hezbollah’s entire organization because of
Rosenthal advocated in EU forums for a ban of Hezbollah before
the publication on February 5 of the Bulgarian report blaming Hezbollah for the
There is mounting pressure on the EU from the United
States and Canada, as well as Israel, to sanction Hezbollah because of the
Lebanese organization’s terrorist campaign on European soil. Bulgaria’s Interior
Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov asserted on February 5 that two Hezbollah operatives
blew up an Israeli tour bus at the Black Sea resort of Burgas, which killed five
Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver, and wounded more than 30
Rosenthal told the Post that “before the Bulgarian government
came to some sort of conclusion of complicity [of Hezbollah] in the terror
attack in Burgas, the Dutch government proposed to list Hezbollah.”
September, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus, then-foreign minister
Rosenthal said, “We have for quite some time now argued that effective European
measures should be taken against Hezbollah.”
He noted that the move to
ban Hezbollah would allow Europe to freeze the organization’s
Asked by the Post why the EU was blocking a listing of Hezbollah
as a terrorist entity, Rosenthal said there “are hesitations on part of other
European countries for two reasons: They are afraid by listing Hezbollah
relations with Lebanese government will come under pressure.
reason, according to their opinion, was that a listing would be problematic was
because “it would mix up the political and military departments of Hezbollah,”
The UK listed the military wing of Hezbollah as terrorist
organization in 2008 because Hezbollah targeted British soldiers in Iraq for
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has stopped short of
calling for a full ban of the organization. He urged the EU to replicate the UK
model and outlaw Hezbollah’s military wing.
Rosenthal said the French had
been “outspoken over the last few months, before [the attack in] Bulgaria,”
against an inclusion of Hezbollah in the EU-terror list. He cited the opposition
from Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and said the French were
It is the “position of the Dutch government that there are
indications, call it [an equivocal stand], that Hezbollah is working together
with Iran on Syria, and not to the good of people of Syria,” Rosenthal
Asked about the German position toward a Hezbollah ban, Rosenthal
said, “Germans on the EU level were not very positive on a [definite
decision]... Things can change.”
He added that since November, he had not
been involved directly and “does know how the German position has developed
since the Bulgarian authorities came up with their conclusion about Hezbollah
“We do know from open sources in Cyprus” about the role of
Hezbollah in a terrorist plot, Rosenthal noted.
Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a
Lebanese-Swedish man, confessed to membership in Hezbollah last week during a
Cypriot criminal court proceeding.
He admitted tracking Israeli flight
and tourist movements on the island but denied he planned to carry out a terror
attack. Hezbollah provided weapons training to him, as well as monthly payments,
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.