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European Parliament chief backs Burgas findings

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(JTA) — European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the parties blamed by Bulgaria for a deadly bus bombing in Burgas last year should be “brought to justice.”

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said Tuesday that his country’s investigation into the July 18 terrorist attack found that it was perpetrated by two operatives of Hezbollah’s military wing and Hezbollah financed the operation. Six people were killed, including five Israeli tourists.

Schultz went further than previous statements by European Union officials when he wrote Wednesday on Twitter, “Thank Bulgarians for professional investigation into Burgas terrorist attack. Perpetrators as indicated must be brought to justice.” 

Schulz’s words appear to go further than those by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday.

“The terrorists who planned and carried out the Burgas attack must be brought to justice,” she wrote, stopping short of committing her office to the findings of the Bulgarian authorities. She said the findings “underlines the need for a reflection” and commended the Bulgarian authorities.

Reacting to her noncommittal statement, the two heads of the Brussels-based European Jewish Parliament, Joel Rubinfeld and Vadim Rabinovich, wrote Ashton a letter saying, "What is at stake is nothing less than to allow or not a terrorist attack on EU territory to go unpunished."

The naming of Hezbollah by Bulgaria, which is an EU member, has given impetus to ongoing efforts by Israel and the U.S. to place Hezbollah on the EU’s list of terror organizations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the EU to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group following the Bulgarian minister’s statement, as have European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor and World Jewish Congress President Ron Launder.

Netanyahu in a phone call Wednesday to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said the findings of the investigation "are clear and prove that Hezbollah was responsible for the atrocity in Burgas. This is an additional indication that Iran, through its proxies, is conducting a global terrorist campaign that crosses borders and continents. I hope that the Europeans will draw the necessary conclusions regarding the true character of Hezbollah after this criminal attack on European soil against an EU member state."

In 2008, the Netherlands emerged as the only European nation to formally classify Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. The U.K. considers only Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist entity, a distinction that Israel has disputed. 

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