By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Hezbollah supporters march in Beirut’s suburbs Photo: ArchiveBahrain’s lawmakers voted on Tuesday to label the Lebanese militia Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the Lebanon-based news outlet Now Lebanon reported.
Tensions have been high since Bahrain accused Hezbollah of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011. According to a report sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2011, the ruling Sunni Khalifa family asserted that Hezbollah trained insurgents in Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran to topple its government.
The move to designate Hezbollah a terror entity comes on the heels of EU talks about banning Hezbollah within the 27-member body because of terror operations. Last week, a Cyprus criminal court convicted a Hezbollah member for plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the small Island. In addition to the foiled Cyprus plot, Bulgaria’s interior minister issued a report last month asserting two Hezbollah operatives participated in the terror attack on an Israeli tour bus in the Black Sea resort of Burgas. The bombing in Burgas resulted in the deaths of five Israelis, their Bulgarian bus driver, and severe injuries to 32 Israelis.
Major EU countries Germany and France have resisted including Hezbollah in the EU terror list because of insufficient legal evidence. JTA reported on Friday that Karl-Matthias Klause, the spokesman for the German Embassy in Washington, said “Our position is that we've always said that if we have proof that holds up in court, we can enter the procedure. There is a general readiness into looking into forbidding the military wing of Hezbollah.”
It is unclear if the legal verdict in Cyprus will influence a change in the German and French positions opposing a ban. The Netherlands is the only EU country to designate Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist group. The United Kingdom classifies Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization. Proponents of a ban of Hezbollah argue a terrorist listing would freeze Hezbollah’s capability to fund-raise and procure weapons in Europe, as well as mount new terror attacks on European soil.
Germany has a large contingent of Hezbollah operatives. According to the country’s domestic intelligence agency, 950 Hezbollah members operate legally in the Federal Republic.