French authorities are hindering any EU move to ban Hezbollah in its entirety
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After Germany end April banned Hezbollah from its territory and declared the group in its entirety a terrorist organisation, following the path of the UK, the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Canada, Israel, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Austrian parliament last week urged Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to advocate within the European Union that Hezbollah’s entire organisation be reassessed in connection with a full terror designation.
However, only one of the ‘’big’’ EU member states has not made the move: France, a situation which probably prevents the EU as a whole to also blacklist Hezbollah.
In fact Paris continues vehemently to refuse to recognize Hezbollah, Iran’s main proxy in Lebanon and Syria, as a terrorist organization.
Why are the French maintaining this stance while several other European countries have all designated the entire Hezbollah as a terror group, rejecting the artificial differentiation between Hezbollah’s ‘’military’’ and ‘’political’’ factions that some countries made before banning it completely ?
“The mere fact that the Germans have changed their position does not necessarily mean that we have to change our position as well,” said last week the new French ambassador to Israel, Eric Danon, in an interview with The Times of Israel.
“You would have to ask them what moment or event triggered their change of positions,” he added. “There were reports in the press about a possible terror attack planned in Germany. Maybe this played a part? But really, to avoid speculation, you would have to ask the Germans directly as to the reasons behind this decision. For our part, we have not identified a particular event that would prompt us to change our position.”
Danon was referring to reports that Berlin changed its policy vis-a-vis Hezbollah after Israel’s Mossad spy agency, after a months-long operation to assess the group’s operations in Germany, informed local authorities of the existence of warehouses in the south of the country where the Beirut-based group kept materials used to make explosives.
Germany’s official reason for outlawing the Iranian-backed group was that it violates criminal law and “opposes the concept of international understanding.”
Hezbollah denies Israel’s right to exist and “supports the armed terrorist fight” against the Jewish state, Germany’s interior ministry said at the time, adding that the organization can be expected to continue planning terror attacks against Israel and Israeli interests abroad.
Following Germany’s move on April 31, an EU spokesperson told European Jewish Press that the European Union’s position on Hezbollah ‘’has not changed.’’ The EU has only blacklisted Hezobllah’s ‘’military wing.’’
“We take note of the decision of the German Ministry of Interior on Hezbollah, which is a domestic public law decision in Germany. The EU position has not changed. In July 2013, the EU 28 Member States agreed unanimously to designate the military wing of Hezbollah under the EU sanctions regime to combat terrorism (Common Position 2001/931),’’ Peter Stano, EU spokesperson for foreign affairs told EJP;
He added: ‘’They underlined that this decision does not prevent the continuation of dialogue with all political parties and does not affect the delivery of financial aid from the EU and its Member States. The EU remains committed to Lebanon’s stability.“
Other EU member states, in particular France, still defend Hezbollah’s ‘’legitimacy’’ due to its political role in Lebanon. An artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s “political wing” and “military wing” that even the group itself does not recognize.
In establishing this distinction, the EU intends to preserve an open channel with Hezbollah and its representatives in the Lebanese government.
Austrian Member of the European Parliament Lukas Mandl, from the European People’s Party, said: tat ‘’ it is clear without any doubt that the European Union must ban Hezbollah entirely. There is no so-called ‚political arm‘ and a ‚terrorist arm‘, but one organization acting violently against the only Jewish State, including killings of civilians, many of them children.’’ ‘’A true European Foreign Policy will establish an even stronger relationship with reliable partners in Lebanon,“ he added.
Mandl has joined more than 50 lawmakers from the European Parliament, national parliaments in Europe, the US Congress and the Canadese parliament, who signed a declaration calling for a total EU ban of Hezbollah.
‘’The designation of Hezbollah of a terror group in its entirety would not deprive Brussels of its open channel to the Lebanese government. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and others each recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and each maintains a robust relationship with Lebanon. In fact, Lebanon receives more foreign assistance from the U.S. than from any other country in the world,’’ noted Richard Grenell, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
Source: EJ Press