Peres urges EU to brand Hezbollah as terrorists

President warns Lebanon not to initiate violence against Jewish state, says Shiite group threatens Beirut more than Israel

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Shimon Peres speaks at a ceremony at Tel Hai, in northern Israel, on February 21, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO/La'am)
President Shimon Peres speaks at a ceremony at Tel Hai, in northern Israel, on February 21, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO/La'am)

President Shimon Peres on Thursday exhorted the European Union and its member states to place Hezbollah on their terror lists, and warned Lebanon against initiating violence against Israel.

Speaking at a ceremony near the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, within sight of the Lebanese border, Peres said, “The time has come to call Hezbollah by its name — a murderous terrorist organization.”

“In his acts and crimes [Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah is staining the name of Lebanon in its entirety,” Peres said.

“Lebanon needs to decide which way to turn — to fire or to peace. If fire, they will pay the price for the blaze they sparked,” he said in a veiled threat to both Lebanon and the Shiite group.

“Hezbollah’s swords threaten Lebanon’s peace more than Israel’s security,” he said.

Peres pointed to the Bulgarian report published earlier in February, which blamed Hezbollah for last summer’s bombing in Burgas that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian citizen, and said that it should motivate Europe to follow the United States’s lead and outlaw Hezbollah. He said the Burgas attack testified to Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsor’s nefarious activities worldwide.

“Now, after it’s been proven that Hezbollah carried out the terrorist attack in Bulgaria — on European soil — and murdered innocent civilians, the hour has arrived for every country in the world, especially the EU, to add Hezbollah to the list of terrorist groups,” he said.

In a backhanded reference to last month’s reported Israeli strike on a Syrian arms convoy, Peres cautioned Israel to keep a watchful eye on weapons transfers from Syria into Hezbollah arsenals in Lebanon.

“Iranian arms dealers fan the flames of civil war, deepen the catastrophe in Syria, and empower the warmongering Hezbollah.”

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