EU Rejects 'Terror' Label for Hezbollah

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The European Union says it will not label Hezbollah a terror group at this time due in part to its involvement in the political process.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country holds the E.U.'s rotating presidency, says there's "no consensus on the issue because Hezbollah also has an active political arm" in the Lebanese government. Such a decision requires consensus by all 27 E.U. member nations.

"The Lebanese Hezbollah is an organization that comprises a political party and a social services network as well as an armed wing," she said. "Hezbollah is active in Lebanese politics, including the parliament and government, and plays a specific role with regard to the status quo in Lebanon."

Hezbollah wormed its way into the Lebanese government through a series of takeover actions and its long history of terror attacks date back to the early 80s. Still the E.U. says there's not enough "tangible evidence" to label it a terror group.

If and when more tangible evidence surfaces of its involvement in terrorist activities, the E.U. will revisit the issue, she indicated.

Hezbollah is on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations as well as Canada's and Great Britain's.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says there's nothing new in the announcement.

"There is no new decision," Palmor told CBN News. "We've been discussing this for years."

"The E.U. for years and years has refrained from including Hezbollah on its terror organization list. This has been the E.U.'s position for years and there was no sign they were willing to change it."

The decision flew in the face of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's request following last week's suicide bombing of an Israeli tourist group in Bulgaria, which killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver and injured 36. Lieberman made the request during a visit to E.U. headquarters in Brussels earlier this week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said "concrete evidence" tied Hezbollah and its handler, Iran, to the bombing.

Palmor said "they simply rejected Lieberman's request," noting the E.U. does list some senior Hezbollah leaders as terrorists.

"Some top Hezbollah officials have been on the E.U.'s list of terrorists for years," he said, "but apparently they think if a key official is a terrorist, that doesn't mean the organization is." Palmor called it "lurid logic."

Lieberman said it's time to label Hezbollah a terror group after two decades worth of terror attacks attributed to it. Such a decision, he said, would demonstrate that the "international community stands for what is right."

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