U.S. lawmakers call on EU to designate Hezbollah as terrorist

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Saying “Hezbollah’s fingerprints are on terror attacks across the globe,” more than 250 members of Congress are urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Spurred by the deadly attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in July, the Congress members signed letters to the president and 27 ministers of the European Union asking for their partnership in “the vital effort to fight terrorism.” Israel and the United States have said Hezbollah is responsible for the suicide attack, which killed five Israelis. The attack is still under investigation. 

“The time is long past for the European Union to recognize that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization with a long history claiming innocent lives,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who along with Reps. Gus Bilrakis (R-Fla.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.) led the effort.

The United States for years has designated Hezbollah as terrorist.

“The ability of Hezbollah to continue to plot and execute these acts of terror undermines the efforts of the United States and our allies to isolate the Iranian regime, protect Israel from a multitude of security threats, and pressure the Assad regime to abandon its campaign of violence and leave Syria,” said Deutch.

“With a trail of terrorist plots around the world, including on EU soil, Hezbollah continues to show why it has been called the A-team of terrorists,” said Rep. Edward Royce (R-Calif.) “The EU’s failure to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization contributes to their destructiveness, giving these killers the opportunity to organize, recruit and raise funds across the continent.”

A second letter, led Royce and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), was sent to the minister of foreign affairs in Cyprus, asking him as the president of the EU to “revisit the disappointing European Council decision not to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity despite increasing reports indicating Hezbollah is operating in Europe to finance, plan, recruit, and execute terrorist plots.”

The letter challenges the EU’s statement that it would revisit the issue if there was “tangible evidence” of Hezbollah’s involvement, stating that “there is a deep body of evidence and intelligence.” The letter goes on to list examples of Hezbollah attack throughout the world.

“It is time for the EU to stop dragging its feet,” Waxman said. “Hezbollah is only becoming more brazen in its operation in Europe.”

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