Israel works to get Hezbollah on EU's list of terror groups
The Foreign Ministry has been making a diplomatic effort in recent weeks to convince the European Union to include Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations.
Success in this endeavor will significantly damage the legitimacy of the Lebanese organization and is likely to make it difficult for the group to raise funds in Europe.
For some time, the EU has hesitated to heed Israel's call, even though a number of Hezbollah leaders, including Imad Mughniye, an international terrorist, have been included on an EU list of individual terrorists.
But the change in the Palestinian leadership, and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, has led Israel to alter its line of argument. Instead of complaining about Hezbollah activities along the northern border, and about the rockets threatening the Galilee, Israeli representatives are highlighting the threat Hezbollah poses to the fledgling Palestinian leader.
According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah is the main "engine" for terrorism in the territories and the group is seeking to undermine the calm achieved in recent days.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his aides are raising the problem in every meeting with foreign representatives. The Foreign Ministry's director general, Ron Prosor, has recruited intelligence officials and the IDF to the effort, to provide the ministry with relevant information. Jeremy Issascharoff, deputy director for strategic affairs, is managing the project.
The Foreign Ministry marked a small victory in its effort last week, when the Belgian ambassador to Israel, Jean-Michel Veranneman de Watervliet, was invited to Jerusalem for a meeting with Issascharoff and the deputy director for Europe, Ron Kuriel. The two officials protested a meeting held between the Belgian ambassador to Lebanon in Beirut on January 19 with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, "under whose direction dozens of murderous terrorist attacks were carried out."
The protest was passed on to Brussels and the next day Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht telephoned Shalom and apologized for the meeting with Nasrallah, saying it was carried out contrary to instructions from the Belgian Foreign Ministry.
Among the EU countries that Israel counts as supporting its stance are Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia. The current holder of the EU presidency, Luxembourg, promised to "be on the side of the good guys." Britain, which in the past insisted on distinguishing between the military and political arms of the group, is now willing to reevaluate its stance. Similar reevaluations are being carried out in other countries.
The EU body that deals with the list of terrorist groups is due to meet on February 16.