European Union does not want to ban Hezbollah yet

There are 27 members of the EU, and It only takes one country’s insistence on protecting Hezbollah’s “political wing” — by preventing it from being recognized as inseparable from its military wing — to keep the European Union from doing what common sense, and a moral sense, both dictate. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald

Just when you begin to think that the EU has stiffened its spine vis-à-vis the Palestinians by, for example, withholding aid funds this year because of the antisemitism in the PA’s schoolbooks, it once again disappoints. The latest example is the EU’s refusal to ban the Shiite terror group Hezbollah in its entirety. A report on the EU’s continuing pusillanimity is here: “European Union Will Not Outlaw All of Hezbollah,” i24 News, November 1, 2021:

The European Union will not ban the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah in its entirety.

When asked about a full ban of Hezbollah, Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life, eschewed [sic] the question and passed it onto her superiors, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Peter Stano, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Policy, told the Post, “The military wing of Hezbollah is already on the EU terror list.

“Any changes in the nature and scope of the existing listing are for EU Member States to discuss and decide by unanimity.”…

There are 27 members of the EU, and It only takes one country’s insistence on protecting Hezbollah’s “political wing” — by preventing it from being recognized as inseparable from its military wing — to keep the EU from doing what common sense, and a moral sense, both dictate.

It took a long time for the EU to designate just the “military wing” as a terrorist group that ought to be sanctioned; it was Israel itself that presented to member countries of the EU the conclusive evidence supporting such a designation. In 2020, with the EU countries having banned the “military wing” of Hezbollah, Israel then presented to the German government evidence of the role of Hezbollah’s “political wing” in supporting the terrorist activities of the “military wing” – for it is the “political wing” that raises money for terrorists’ upkeep and weapons, helps pay for the recruitment of new members to the terror group and their salaries, and underwrites the propaganda campaigns that Hezbollah conducts to justify its acts of terror against the Jewish state. And the evidence of those links between the military and political wings, brought by Israel to German attention, led Germany to outlaw the “political wing” of Hezbollah; country’s new ban, in force since April 2020, does not differentiate between the group’s military and political wings. Hezbollah “political” activities “violate criminal law and the organization opposes the concept of international understanding,” said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer when the new policy was announced.

He continued: “The group, headed by Hassan Nasrallah, denies Israel’s right to exist and “supports the armed terrorist fight” against the Jewish state, his ministry said in a statement. “It is to be expected that Hezbollah will continue to plot terrorist acts against Israel and Israeli interests also outside the Middle East.

Germany joins several other European countries, most notably the U.K.(which came after Germany) and the Netherlands (which came before), in banning Hezbollah in its entirety. But France is a notable holdout, still clinging to the fiction of two entirely separate wings of Hezbollah when, in fact, the “military wing” could not exist without the “political wing” that provides funds and recruits.

In fact, Hezbollah itself is the best witness for its own prosecution – it has declared itself to be a single and unified organization:

Hezbollah, as an organization, considers itself to be a unified movement that cannot be divided into political and military sectors. Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi stated in 2013, “Hezbollah is a single, large organization. We have no wings that are separate from one another.”

Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese government, but it operates independently and does not assume responsibility for what happens in the country….

Hezbollah may “operate independently” from the Lebanese government” but, alas, the Lebanese government is unable to operate independently from Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a state within a state. It controls the government not only  through its own members in the cabinet and in Parliament, but also through others, non-Shi’a, who have become willing collaborators of the terror group. These include the Maronite President Michel Aoun and the Sunni Prime Minister Najib Mikati, both of whom do Hezbollah’s bidding. Hezbollah is much more powerful than the Lebanese Army, that does not dare to confront the terror group, which possesses more weaponry than do 95% of the world’s conventional army. Hezbollah has brought every kind of woe to Lebanon. It dragged the unwilling country into a war with Israel in 2006 that led to the destruction of much of its infrastructure. It haphazardly stored 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrates in Hangar 12 at the Port of Beirut, leading to the gigantic blast on Aug. 4, 2020, which caused 215 dead, 6,500 wounded, and $15 billion in property damage. Hezbollah has denied any responsibility for the catastrophe, and has tried to force Tarek Bitar, the honest investigator of the blast, off the case, even going so far as to threaten him physically. Finally, it is Hezbollah goons who have suppressed peaceful demonstrations by Lebanese against the mismanagement and corruption of their own government.

Prime Minister Bennett’s attempt, on the sidelines of the Glasgow Climate Summit, to convince Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison to designate all of Hezbollah as a terror organization makes sense. Though Australia currently recognizes only the Hezbollah External Security Organization as a terrorist group, and not the entire organization, this past June Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) recommended blacklisting all of Hezbollah. Their both being in attendance at Glasgow has offered the first time, since that parliamentary recommendation in June, for Bennett to have a chance to make his case to Morrison – widely recognized as pro-Israel — in person. Within a very short time, we should see whether Bennett’s powers of persuasion have worked.

Hezbollah’s “military wing” could not exist without its “political wing.” It would not have the hundreds of millions of dollars to pay its recruits and to buy weapons and to build a network of terror tunnels; without that “political wing” it could not pay for and distribute its anti-Israel propaganda worldwide; without its “political wing” Hezbollah would not be able to bribe officials to look the other way when the terror group conducts its lucrative drug trade from South America to Europe and the Middle East.

Why should any EU country continue to pretend that the “military” and the “political” wings of Hezbollah are distinct entities, when everything we know about them shows them joined at the hip? When we have all known for years that the “military” wing relies on the “political wing” to raise money to buy weapons, to pay seasoned fighters and new recruits, to underwrite the creation and  dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda? And if Hezbollah’s own spokesman, Ibrahim Mousawi, has insisted that “Hezbollah is a single, large organization. We have no wings that are separate from one another,” then who are we to disagree?

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