The French government is ready to add the armed wing of Hezbollah to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, according to a report Friday in a London-based Arab daily.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reportedly informed US Secretary of State John Kerry of Paris’s decision at their meeting on Wednesday, a French official told al-Hayat.
According to the report, the French government had decided to promote the idea in light of Hezbollah’s apparent responsibility for a terrorist attack against a busload of Israeli tourists in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas, Bulgaria last summer, as well as because of the support that the Lebanese organization provides to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
US and Israeli officials for months have been pressing the European Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Israel and Bulgaria have accused Hezbollah of carrying out the Burgas bombing, which killed five Israelis and their local bus driver and injured dozens. US President Barack Obama repeated the call during his visit to Israel earlier this month.
“When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live and love and raise families,” Obama told a convention center in Jerusalem packed with cheering university students. “That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization.”
Earlier this week, the parliament of Bahrain passed a bill declaring the Lebanese group a terrorist organization and called on other Persian Gulf nations to follow suit.
Hezbollah receives military training, financial support and weapons from Iran. According to the Middle East Forum, a conservative American think tank, the US estimates that Iran provides the Shiite terror organization with $60-100 million annually. Hezbollah is also a key ally to Assad, and its fighters have joined in the Syrian civil war on Damascus’s behalf in the past two years.
The group has been accused of several major terror attacks in the past 20 years, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 people.