Israel’s Peres urges EU to put Hezbollah on terrorist list
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Israeli President Shimon Peres has repeated calls to brand the Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist group as he addressed the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Israeli President Shimon Peres urged European leaders to officially declare Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist group on Tuesday, repeating similar statements he has given to the press over the past week.
“Your voice is highly respected” Peres told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, “We appeal to you: call terror ‘terror’.”
“Recently, 20 terror attempts by Hezbollah were counted all over the world, in India, Thailand, Georgia, South Africa, the US, Egypt and Greece, among others,” Peres added in a speech that focused on Iran and the threat of Tehran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
In an interview with the daily Le Monde published on Tuesday, Peres said he had spoken personally to French President François Hollande about Hezbollah in recent days, claiming the armed Shiite movement was interfering in the Syrian civil war.
“Hezbollah acts like a state within a state and deepens the divisions [in Lebanon]. It has its own army and sends it to fight in Syria without the permission of the Lebanese government, which it is a part of,” he told the French newspaper.
Likewise, after a meeting with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso last Thursday, Peres told reporters that giving latitude to Hezbollah would only encourage the group to expand its operations.
“If you do not take measures against Hezbollah, then they may think that they are permitted” to do what they like, he said at the time. “[Hezbollah’s operations] should be stopped, it is terror... it does not have any other name.”
Hezbollah has been on America’s terrorist blacklist for the last 17 years, but Europe has hesitated to follow suit, with EU states divided over the issue.
Britain is in favour of blacklisting the armed group, but France and Italy are said to remain reluctant.
The 89-year-old Peres is touring Europe with what seems to be the dual aim of spurring member states to take action against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and slap Hezbollah with sanctions.
There has been growing pressure on the EU to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group after a preliminary report from Bulgarian authorities said the Lebanese organisation was responsible for a bus bombing in July 2012 that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian national.
European officials have said they will wait for a final report from Sofia before taking action on the subject.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the bloc to follow Washington's lead on Hezbollah in order to crack down on its fundraising activities.