Liberman: Europe has capitulated to terrorism

In letter to EU foreign policy chief, ex-FM asks whether Israel can trust the union after it left Hezbollah off terror list

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Hezbollah fighters hold party flags during a parade in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon (AP/Hussein Malla/File)
Hezbollah fighters hold party flags during a parade in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon (AP/Hussein Malla/File)

The European Union’s decision to leave Hezbollah off its terror list was “a capitulation to terrorism,” Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said Monday in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

In the missive Liberman, until recently Israel’s foreign minister, questioned Israel’s ability to rely on Europe’s word if it wasn’t able to contend with terrorism and organizations such as Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s Lebanese Shiite militia, Hezbollah.

“The exclusion of Hezbollah from the list of proscribed terrorist organizations is a capitulation to terrorism,” Liberman wrote.

The letter of complaint to Brussels was sent, he said, in reaction to the EU’s decision last week “to currently exclude the terrorist organization Hezbollah” from its list of outlawed terror groups.

“The decision made by the EU on the fourth of this month raises many questions, the most important of which is about the readiness of the EU to combat terrorism and how Israel can rely on European promises to guarantee its security,” Liberman charged.

Branding Hezbollah as a terrorist group, he wrote, would “not only send a very strong message of ‘zero tolerance’ for the activities of this organization,” it would also mean that Hezbollah would not be able to raise funds and garner support in Europe.

Liberman detailed some of the facts linking Hezbollah to terror attacks in the EU, including a report by the Bulgarian government linking the group to last summer’s bombing in the resort town of Burgas and a court ruling in Cyprus which found a Hezbollah operative guilty of planning attacks against Israelis. He also mentioned the United Nations tribunal which in 2011 linked Hezbollah to the assassination of Lebanon’s leader Rafiq Hariri.

“There are many obvious reasons to include Hezbollah on the EU list of terrorist organizations and there remains no satisfactory explanation for not doing so,” Liberman said. “This is the duty of every state that truly wishes to fight terrorism, which endangers Europe and the world.”

Speaking Monday at a meeting of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, which he chairs, Liberman also said that while the Middle East was going through a “very turbulent period,” he was more concerned by the European Union’s decision not to include Hezbollah on the list of terror organizations.

Not adding Hezbollah to the list “makes the EU irrelevant to Israel,” Liberman declared.

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