EU experts to mull British request to proscribe Hezbollah military


(JTA) — Counterterrorism experts from several European countries will meet to discuss Britain’s request that the European Union classify Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity.

According to a report Wednesday on the news site EUObserver, the meeting is scheduled for June 4 in Brussels.

On Tuesday, a British Foreign Ministry spokesman linked the request to a terrorist attack that Bulgarian authorities said Hezbollah perpetrated in Burgas. Five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver were killed in the July 19 explosion on a busload of tourists from Israel waiting at the beach resort’s airport.

“We are calling for Europe to respond collectively and robustly following the atrocious terrorist attack at Burgas airport … We firmly believe that an appropriate EU response would be to designate Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization,” the British official said.

But European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said all of Hezbollah, and not just its military wing, should be proscribed.

“Proscribing just part of the Hezbollah infrastructure will not prove effective enough and will allow this terrorist organization to carry on targeting innocent civilians in Europe and elsewhere,” Kantor wrote in a statement on Wednesday.

Still, the European Jewish Congress is “pleased to hear that finally this issue has gained traction and there is significant development towards the official proscription of Hezbollah in the European Union,” Kantor said.

Britain listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity in 2008. In 2004, the Netherlands became the only country in the European Union to outlaw Hezbollah.

According to reports, France is opposed to the move, as it would damage the European Union’s ties with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a major political force.

The United States has called on the European Union to follow the Dutch example – a move that counterterrorism experts  say would severely limit Hezbollah’s ability to launder money through European banks and raise funds in European Muslim communities.

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