Israel Urges EU to Cut Financial Ties With Hizbullah

PARIS (Reuters/Hamodia) -
Israel’s Home Front Minister Avi Dichter. (Flash90)
Israel’s Home Front Minister Avi Dichter. (Flash90)

A decision by the EU to blacklist Hizbullah would interrupt the group’s financing because much of the money it uses to fund terror operations comes from European capitals, Israel’s civil defense minister Avi Dichter said Tuesday.

Bulgaria is pressing the EU to toughen its stance toward Hizbullah after it blamed the group for a bus bombing that killed five Israelis at a Bulgarian Black Sea resort last year.

The EU has resisted pressure to list Hizbullah as a terrorist group, arguing this could destabilize a fragile government in Lebanon and contribute to instability in the Middle East.

But Avi Dichter, in Paris to discuss the matter with French officials, told Reuters the EU should blacklist the group because it also drew a large portion of its funds from European capitals and later laundered the money.

“Europe, that’s the real base of Hizbullah … If they won’t be able to gather money or to raise finances in Europe, they are going to be in trouble,” he said, adding the funding came from a network of charities and front-companies.

Dichter told French senate members that “saying Hizbullah is not a terror organization is like saying Paris does not belong to France.”

The results of Bulgaria’s investigation are likely to take weeks or months to deliver. EU diplomats have said their stance on whether to blacklist the group will depend on evidence Bulgaria produces.

In France, officials also say privately they are concerned that listing Hizbullah as a terrorist organization could destabilize Lebanon where French peacekeeping troops are deployed.

“I wish they (France) will be smart enough, brave enough to take a step without thinking how it’s going to affect the stability or the lack of stability in Lebanon,” said Dichter. “Lebanon has so many problems that defining them (Hizbullah) as a terror organization or not, that’s not the key issue.”