French FM: No EU consensus on Hezbollah ban

Foreign Ministry in Paris says consensus between members "not currently met;" Nasrallah attacks US, Israel for pushing sanctions.

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN - The EU has not reached a consensus among its 27 members to include Lebanon-based Hezbollah in its list of terrorist organizations, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry in Paris said on Wednesday.
“The designation of a terrorist organization by the European Union implies that precise legal conditions are met,” spokesman Philippe Lalliot said, according to the translated answer obtained by The Jerusalem Post.
“Under the common position of the Council of the European Union of 27 from December 2001 on the application of specific measures to fight against terrorism, any application on the list of terrorist organizations in the EU particularly is subject to a consensus among Member States. This consensus is not currently met,” he said.
A reporter at the Foreign Ministry briefing asked Lalliot about a January Israeli newspaper report detailing Israel’s new efforts to convince Europe to outlaw Hezbollah because of the group’s terrorist activities. The reporter cited Ma’ariv saying that “this failure is particularly the position of France, which would be opposed to such an initiative.”
There has been a swirl of activity over the last few weeks in connection with an EU ban of Hezbollah and the suicide bombing of an Israeli tour bus in July 2012. According to American and Israeli intelligence officials, a joint Iran-Hezbollah operation blew up the bus, resulting in the deaths of five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.
It is unclear if the Bulgarians have completed their investigation. The Bulgarian prosecutor’s office sacked a prosecutor earlier this week for allegedly leaking results to the media about the identities of suspects.
Israeli counterterrorism officials have redoubled their efforts to persuade Europe to ban Hezbollah based on the militia’s support of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, kidnapping of Israelis, and the group’s involvement in the narcotics trade. The Saudi paper Al-Watan wrote that 5,000 Hezbollah fighters in December left for Syria to bolster Assad’s attacks on opposition groups.
According to commentators and news reports in Israel, France is going to great lengths to block any designation of Hezbollah as a terror entity because it want to preserve its diplomatic leverage in Lebanon. France is also concerned about Hezbollah retaliation.
The Beirut-based Daily Star reported Hezbollah’s secretary- general Hasan Nasrallah attacked the US and Israel for pushing sanctions against his organization. Nasrallah termed 2013 a “very dangerous phase.”
According to the paper, “In the coming year, we will be facing many challenges as a resistance as the Americans and Israelis are working to besiege us with efforts to place Hezbollah on the European Union’s terrorist list, restricting the group’s movement in Latin America and so on.”