The UK government has failed in its desperate attempt at the European Union to blacklist the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah as a “terrorist group”, local media reported.
The failure came after Britain was unable to convince its European allies that Hezbollah was behind an attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year, according to British media outlets. The bombing happened last July in the Black Sea resort of Burgas, where five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian driver and the bomber were killed. This was considered as a crucial part of the UK government’s rationale to convince the EU to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. However, several EU countries voiced doubt over the evidence linking the resistance movement to the bombing. Hezbollah enjoys a major political and social standing within the Lebanese society and the EU nation also voiced concerns that blacklisting it could create instability in Lebanon. Meanwhile, after a one-year probe, the Bulgarian government too was unable to submit credible proof that Hezbollah was involved in the attack. "An attack takes place and immediately all over the world, governments are saying it was Hezbollah," said Elena Pavlova, a Middle East analyst based in Sofia. "Yet, we have waited a year and still no one has given any proof." Along with local journalist Ruslan Yordanov, she found al Qaida-linked martyrdom videos online, claiming responsibility a day after the bombing in Burgas. They wonder whether evidence pointing towards alternative perpetrators was deliberately ignored to meet the demands of Israeli and Western governments seeking an excuse to ban Hezbollah. Hezbollah has also dismissed allegations of involvement in the Burgas plot, and the attempt to blacklist the resistance movement has brought heated responses from Lebanon. "Any listing of the group as a terrorist organisation will be considered as political provocation," Lebanon's acting foreign minister Adnan Mansour, who is seen as close to the Syrian government, said last week. "We know there are Israeli pressures practised on more than one international side in order to accuse Hezbollah of terrorism." Enough doubts remain to make several EU governments uncomfortable about blacklisting the group, and the support of all 27 members is needed for the motion to pass.