German official: Hezbollah must feel the pressure

Missfelder criticizes EU counter-terrorism official for playing down need to list Hezbollah as terrorist entity.

Hezbollah’s Martyrs’ Day in south Beirut (photo credit: Sharif Karim/Reuters)
Hezbollah’s Martyrs’ Day in south Beirut
(photo credit: Sharif Karim/Reuters)
LONDON - Philipp Missfelder, a deputy in the Bundestag and foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, sharply criticized on Tuesday an EU counter-terrorism official for his remarks about playing down the need to list Hezbollah as a terrorist entity within Europe's territories.
The EU's counter-terrorism official in Brussels, Gilles de Kerchove, told the EU Observer on Monday that prior to declaring Hezbollah a terrorist agency, the organization must first reach conclusions with "strong evidence" that it was the military wing of Hezbollah that bombed Burgas.
"That's the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: 'Is this the right thing to do?'" Kerchove said.
In an exclusive statement to The Jerusalem Post, Missfelder fired back, "I can understand this statement in no way. Hezbollah must feel the pressure."
Missfelder said "Statements like this are counterproductive. Terrorism is an integral part of Hezbollah's overall strategy that undermines the political stability of Lebanon and threatens the existence of the Jewish state of Israel."
"There has never been doubt about that. By no means can the EU tolerate that this group operates from European soil. Therefore it is absolutely urgent to put this group on the EU terror list," he said.
Israeli and American intelligence officials attribute the July suicide bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria as the work of a joint Hezbollah-Iran operation. The terrorism attack caused the deaths of five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.
A German foreign ministry spokesman wrote the Post on Monday by email, saying "if there is enough legal proof presented for involvement of the organization [Hezbollah] in terror activities in Europe, a listing in the EU will be examined.".
The French government has blocked a listing of Hezbollah and the views of de Kerchove mirror reports about French opposition to outlawing Hezbollah.
France is believed to not want to lose diplomatic leverage with Lebanon's government. Hezbollah is part of the coalition government in Beirut.
Gilles de Kerchove told the EU Observer: "For Hezbollah, you might ask, given the situation in Lebanon, which is a highly fragile, highly fragmented country, is listing it going to help you achieve what you want?"
"There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack. It's not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it's also a political assessment of the context and the timing," de Kerchove stated.
The Bulgarian government is slated to issue the findings of its investigation in February.