Despite Burgas bombing probe, European & Israeli officials are a bit skeptical that Hezbollah will be blacklisted.
Israeli officials expressed satisfaction Thursday that the question of placing Hezbollah on the EU’s terror blacklist was expected to be discussed at a two-day summit of the leaders of the 27 European Union states that began Thursday evening in Brussels.
Though there was no expectation that any decision would be made at the meeting, one official said the very fact that it would be discussed by the European leaders was a step in the right direction.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the Bulgarian investigation that pointed to Hezbollah involvement in the 2012 Burgas attack that killed six people – including five Israelis – would be assessed and discussed at the meeting.
Both European and Israeli officials, however, cautioned against undue optimism that the EU would finally place the organization on the terror list, something that would make it much more difficult for Hezbollah to raise money and lobby for support inside European capitals.
Rather, the officials said, various half steps might be considered, such as placing the “military” wing of the organization on the list, but not the “political” wing, something the British have already done on their list.
In this way, one official explained, European countries would be able to continue having contact with Hezbollah politicians and ministers in the Lebanese government, while still being able to take measure to curtail funding for the organization in Europe.
Another possibility may be to place individuals on the list, as was done to Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyah, in the past.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has come out strongly against dividing the organization into component parts, saying it is one organization with one leadership.
Meanwhile, President François Hollande of France, which has historically been the major EU country opposing placing Hezbollah on the list, told World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder Wednesday that France would study the evidence assembled by the Bulgarian investigators before making any decision regarding the labeling of the Lebanese organization.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=302535