Israel to urge EU to blacklist Hezbollah after Burgas blast

AFP , Sunday 22 Jul 2012

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calls the European Union to blacklist Hezbollah after blaming the Lebanese Shia movement for the recent bombing attacks in Bulgaria

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. (Photo: AP)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is to head to Brussels on Monday to press his European Union counterparts to blacklist Hezbollah as a 'terror' group after a deadly bombing in Bulgaria.

Israel blames the Lebanese militant group and its Iranian ally for the attack near the Black Sea resort of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver on Wednesday.

The foreign ministry announcement late on Sunday came after Israeli intelligence chiefs told government ministers that they had evidence that Iran and Hezbollah had plotted attacks in more than 20 countries over the past two years.

"Minister Lieberman is travelling to Brussels and will ask the countries of the European Union to include Hezbollah in its blacklist of terrorist organisations and to tighten security measures at airports and around Israeli and Jewish institutions," the ministry statement said.

Lieberman said that Wednesday's bombing in Bulgaria, itself an EU member state, "has changed the way in which Hezbollah is seen".

"This is a new terrorist crime by Hezbollah which joins a long list which this organisation has been responsible for in recent years... European countries must draw the lessons."

Lieberman is due to hold talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, as well as his British and French counterparts William Hague and Laurent Fabius.

Shiite militant group Hezbollah is the leading force in Lebanon's governing coalition and has representation in the cabinet. EU countries maintain contacts with its political wing.

But Israel regards the group, with which it fought a devastating but inconclusive war in Lebanon in 2006, as one its principal foes.

Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu told Sunday's cabinet meeting: "It is very important to be able to prove to the world that Iran and Hezbollah are behind this wave of attacks on every continent.

"Iran and Hezbollah made preparations to carry out attacks in more than 20 countries around the world over the past two years," a statement from his office said.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Bulgaria bombing, which was the deadliest on Israelis abroad since 2004.

Israel, in blaming Iran and Hezbollah for Wednesday's bombing, said it fitted a pattern of other attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis including in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya and Cyprus.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied any involvement, saying Tehran condemned "all terrorists attacks".

Iran has in turn accused Israel of carrying out deadly attacks on its nuclear scientists. Shiite militant group Hezbollah has also blamed Israel for the killing of one of its commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, in a Damascus car bombing in 2008.

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