x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

EU terror listing for Hizbollah wing

Britain pushes for the EU to add Hizbollah's military wing to its terror list because of evidence that the group was behind a bus bombing in Bulgaria in July that killed five Israelis and their driver.

BRUSSELS // Germany will back a British drive to put the armed wing of Hizbollah on the European Union's list of terrorist organisations, German diplomats said yesterday.

Britain said on Tuesday it wanted the EU to add Hizbollah's military wing to its terror list because of evidence that the Lebanese militant group was behind a bus bombing in Bulgaria in July that killed five Israelis and their driver.

London also cited a four-year jail sentence handed down by a Cypriot court in March to a Hizbollah member accused of plotting to attack Israeli interests on the island.

If backed unanimously by the EU, the listing would force European governments and companies to halt financial dealings with the Lebanese movement's armed wing.

The call for EU action on Hizbollah comes at a time of growing western anxiety about the group's involvement in the Syrian conflict, although British sources said this was not the reason for its request.

Germany, one of the most powerful EU countries, had previously said it wanted to see stronger evidence that Hizbollah was involved in the bombing in Bulgaria.

"In the light of discussions we have had with our partners following the terrorist attack in Burgas, the foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, supports listing at least the military wing of Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation in the EU," a German diplomatic source said.

"The German position is based on an increasingly clear picture of the facts and on the progress achieved by Cypriot authorities in analysing terrorist activities."

Hizbollah has dismissed Bulgaria's accusations that it was involved in the attack and said Israel is waging a smear campaign against it.

Britain's request will be discussed on June 4 by a special EU working group and London hopes for final agreement at an EU foreign ministers' meeting on June 24, an EU diplomat said.