A total of 60 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed a letter that calls upon the European Union to blacklist the entire organization of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The letter was sent on Thursday to EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini.
“Hezbollah’s growing arsenal and entanglement in regional conflicts severely destabilizes certain countries and the wider Middle East,” said Danish MEP Anders Vistisen, one of the three initiators of the letter.
“It is high time to acknowledge that Islamist-inspired terrorism is not only a threat to the Middle East, but is also the top threat to Europe’s security.”
After Hezbollah was implicated in a 2012 bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed 5 Israeli tourists and injured 32 other Israeli nationals, the EU had finally recognized the Lebanese terrorist organization’s military wing to be a terror group back in 2013. However, the political bloc still avoided making such a designation for Hezbollah’s political wing.
“It’s outrageous that the European Union still has not denounced Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization,” Vistisen added.
Lars Adaktusson of Sweden, another one of the initiators of the letter, also emphasized the need to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and not just its military branch.
“In order to stop Hezbollah’s extensive terrorist activities, the EU approach has to change,” Adaktusson said. “Hezbollah is one united organization, and the EU policy cannot be based on a pretend division of this terrorist organization into a civilian and a military wing.”
Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute, referred to the EU’s separation of Hezbollah’s political wing from its military wing as a “false distinction.”
“The false distinction between so-called military and political wings is just that–a false distinction,” he said. “By banning the group in its entirety, the EU would give itself the tools to track Hezbollah’s money flows and stop it from raising funds and recruits in Europe.”
The third sponsor of the letter, Péter Niedermüller of Hungary, also contended that recognition of all of Hezbollah as a terror organization is long overdue and that the “EU’s moral obligation is to stand with Israel on this issue.”
Schwammenthal expressed optimism on the letter’s prospects in helping to increase momentum within the political bloc to officially recognize all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
“The broad, cross-party support this letter has received underscores the fact that there is luckily a growing realization in Europe that Hezbollah is a monumental threat not only to Syrians, Israelis and of course Lebanese, but ultimately also to European security,” he said.
“One can only hope that the EU will act upon this letter and change its policy on Hezbollah.”