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EU must blacklist Hizbullah, says Netanyahu

Binyamin Netanyahu calls on the EU to blacklist Hizbullah as a 'terrorist organisation,' citing the Iranian nuclear threat and Hizbullah's support to Tehran

AFP , Wednesday 5 Sep 2012
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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged the European Union to place the Lebanese Shia movement Hizbullah on its list of "terrorist" organisations.

Netanyahu made the request during talks with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Iran's disputed nuclear programme, Hizbullah's leading regional ally.

"We are facing great challenges; perhaps the greatest challenge that the international community is facing is Iran's quest for nuclear weapons," the prime minister said, according to a statement issued by his office.

"I think that the international community must set a clear red line for Iran that it knows that it cannot go beyond in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and I think that as hard as it is, the economic sanctions have to be intensified.

"We appreciate the efforts that you have made and that others in Europe are making. There is one other effort that I think Europe could make to advance the cause of security and peace, and that is to declare Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, a terrorist organisation," he said.

"It is exactly that. It's the world's leading terror organisation, and Europe could contribute much by declaring it for what it is."

In July, the European Union turned down a request by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to blacklist Hizbullah as a terror group after a deadly bombing in Bulgaria.

"There is no consensus for putting Hizbullah on the list of terrorist organisations," said Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

Kozakou-Marcoullis said Hizbullah was an organisation comprising a party as well as an armed wing and was "active in Lebanese politics," with representatives in the government and in parliament.

Israel blames Iran and Hizbullah for the 18 July suicide attack at the Black Sea airport of Burgas in which five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver died.

It also says that Iran and Hizbullah plotted to carry out more than 20 attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets over the past two years.

Iran and Hizbullah have denied the accusations.

Israel and much of the West believes Iran's nuclear activities mask a weapons programme, a charge Tehran denies.

Israel says a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat and has consistently warned it that all options remain on the table, including a military strike on Iran's nuclear installations.

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