Thursday

1st Dec 2022

UK has second go at EU listing of Hezbollah

  • Pro-Hezbollah flag at rally in Paris (Photo: looking4poetry)

The UK will have a second go at persuading sceptics to blacklist Hezbollah at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (19 June).

Britain in May filed a proposal for the EU to designate the military wing of the Lebanese group as a terrorist entity.

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France, Germany and the Netherlands back the idea, even though The Hague would prefer to list Hezbollah's political bureau as well.

Several other countries - including Bulgaria, Estonia and Hungary - are willing to "go with the flow" if a consensus comes together.

But the Czech republic and Poland emerged as naysayers in preliminary talks on 4 June.

"On the basis of the note I got from the last meeting, there will not be a positive decision [on Wednesday]," one EU contact told this website, describing Poland's position.

Diplomatic sources say Prague and Warsaw got cold feet due to Bulgaria's handling of the situation.

Britain's main argument is that Hezbollah blew up a bus containing Jewish tourists in the Bulgarian city of Burgas last year.

Bulgaria in February said it had evidence that Hezbollah did it. But it backtracked in early June and said the evidence is "inconclusive."

Its latest statement, on 14 June, said it has "not changed its position" on Hezbollah's guilt, but added that police needs more time to "present an even more solid foundation" for the EU decision.

The UK also says Cyprus' jailing of a man on charges of scouting targets for a Hezbollah attack is a reason in favour.

France says Hezbollah's decision to fight rebels in Syria merits EU sanctions.

"We believe there is enough evidence to go ahead. But more needs to be done to convince other member states," a British diplomat told this website on Tuesday.

He noted that it took London several months to engineer the lifting of an EU arms embargo on Syrian rebels.

Wednesday's meeting is at the level of counter-terrorism specialists posted from EU capitals to Brussels.

The working party - called CP931 after the EU's Common Position 2001/931, which created the terrorism blacklist 12 years ago - takes decisions by unanimity.

If London gets a breakthrough, a CP931 proposal must be endorsed by two more layers of EU diplomats and by EU foreign ministers before it becomes law.

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