The European Union, comprised of 27 member countries, further diminished its own credibility as an international influence, when it failed last week to approve a British proposal to designate Hezbollah’s armed wing as a terrorist organization. The British proposal cited Hezbollah’s connection to a bus bombing in Bulgaria last summer that took six lives as the most recent piece of evidence of the organization’s terrorist connections. In addition, Hezbollah is responsible for a string of outrages going back to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers.
But Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic weren’t so confident about the evidence from Bulgaria — which itself has vacillated over the last few months about how conclusively it had established the Hezbollah connection. These countries also said they were worried that a major shift for the EU could further destabilize the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a major player in the government.
The EU’s decision and resulting “explanation” is pure diplomatic sophistry. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu observed: “It’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. If Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t know what is a terrorist organization.” Netanyahu is correct, and the EU knows it.
What is surprising is that the British resolution only sought to designate Hezbollah’s “armed wing” as a terrorist organization, thereby preserving the fiction that Hezbollah’s political leaders are mainly interested in good schools and filling potholes, and are not focused on killing Israelis, Jews and Westerners. But even that didn’t satisfy all of the EU’s members.
The EU already blacklists Hamas and Turkey’s Kurdish militant group PKK, and has frozen their assets. The failure to add Hezbollah to that blacklist makes no sense. We urge the EU to overcome any fears of reprisal, and to recognize Hezbollah for the terrorist organization that it is. Hezbollah has been and remains a destabilizing factor in the Middle East. Weakening Hezbollah can only help the region.