View of the European Parliament during a plenary session in Brussels, Belgium, March 2, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the European Parliament sent a letter on Thursday to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, urging her to classify all of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.
Danish MEP Anders Vistisen, one of the three co-initiators of the letter, said: “It’s outrageous that the European Union still has not denounced Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s growing arsenal and entanglement in regional conflicts severely destabilizes certain countries and the wider Middle East. It is high time to acknowledge that Islamist-inspired terrorism is not only a threat to the Middle East, but is also the top threat to Europe’s security.”
The letter was signed by a cross-section of 60 members of the European Parliament. The other co-initiators were Lars Adaktusson of Sweden and Péter Niedermüller of Hungary.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid was in Brussels and said: “As part of an ongoing effort led by myself and my friend congressman Ted Deutch [D-Florida], I raised this issue today with the ambassadors to the EU and with Foreign Minister Mogherini. Hezbollah is one entity and that entity is a terror organization. It is time for the European Union to ban the entirety of Hezbollah and stop the money, recruitment of terrorists, and shows of public support which are taking place on European soil. This letter is a welcome initiative and sooner or later the European Union will have to do the right thing.”
Adaktusson said, “In order to stop Hezbollah’s extensive terrorist activities, the EU approach has to change. Hezbollah is one united organization, and the EU policy cannot be based on a pretend division of this terrorist organization into a civilian and a military wing.”
The European Union designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity in 2012. The proscription came in response to an attack by the organization on an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in 2012, which resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver. An additional 32 Israelis were wounded.
A special court in Sofia, Bulgaria, is conducting a trial in absentia of two Hezbollah operatives involved in the attack. A third Hezbollah operative died in the bomb blast.
“It is a widely known fact that Hezbollah, just like Hamas, is a typical terror organization. Their goal is not peace in the Middle East, but prolonging the crisis and promoting hate. Both of them should have been officially designated as terror organizations a long time ago. Those who support these organizations endanger peace, and the EU’s moral obligation is to stand with Israel on this issue,” said Niedermüller.
Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s EU office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute, said, “The broad, cross-party support this letter has received underscores the fact that there is, luckily, a growing realization in Europe that Hezbollah is a monumental threat not only to Syrians, Israelis and of course Lebanese, but ultimately also to European security.
“One can only hope that the EU will act upon this letter and change its policy on Hezbollah,” he said.
“The false distinction between so-called military and political wings is just that – a false distinction. By banning the group in its entirety, the EU would give itself the tools to track Hezbollah’s money flows and stop it from raising funds and recruits in Europe,” Schwammenthal said.
The letter outlines Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond. Hezbollah has amassed 150,000 rockets in Lebanon in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701, and supported the Syrian regime in its war crimes. The letter states, “In light of the above and Europe’s strong commitment against intolerance and terrorism, we firmly urge the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety. Only by recognizing the organization’s true nature may we be successful in protecting Europe and our common values.”
Benjamin Nägele, director of EU Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, said “any distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wings is an artificial one. Even the organization’s leaders view the two branches as part of the same entity, with money passing freely between them. Omitting the political wing from the EU’s terrorist list allows Hezbollah to openly organize and fund-raise in Europe for its murderous agenda.”
He added that “designating Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist entity would be the long-overdue catch-up to the reality of the Iranian proxy’s role and its murderous agenda in the [Mideast] region.”