BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Wednesday ridiculed a European Union decision to place the group’s military wing on a terror list, accusing the body of capitulating to U.S. and Israeli pressures by blacklisting it.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the decision is “worthless” and makes EU countries partners in any future Israeli aggression against Lebanon or his militant group.
The EU’s 28 foreign ministers made the announcement Monday after prolonged diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and Israel, both which consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
“I did not feel for one moment that this was a sovereign European decision, but rather one that was dictated to them,” Nasrallah said, speaking to supporters in Beirut via satellite link. “Europe was not convinced, but has capitulated … to American and Israeli wishes.”
Nasrallah has been in hiding since the 2006 monthlong war between Hezbollah and Israel. He has since made very few, and only brief, public appearances.
Some European countries had pushed for the EU action by citing a terrorist attack in Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Burgas last year that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian. Hezbollah’s military wing was accused of involvement, an allegation it denied. In March, a criminal court in Cyprus found a Hezbollah member guilty of helping to plan attacks on Israelis on the Mediterranean island.
Both Bulgaria and Cyprus are EU members.
Several EU nations have pointed to Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as further reason for the move.
“These (European) countries are giving Israel a cover to launch an aggression against Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, adding that makes them full partners in any future Israeli attacks in Lebanon.
The blacklisting entails asset freezes and paves the way for possible travel bans on members of Hezbollah’s military wing. The EU ministers hope it will also curtail fundraising.
Nasrallah derided the move, saying members of the group “did not take summer vacations in Sardinia.” He also denied that Hezbollah has money in European banks.
“You will not achieve anything through this decision other than failure and disappointment,” Nasrallah said.
The Iranian-backed group has an arsenal that rivals Lebanon’s army and plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics, dominating the government along with its allies since 2011. It has sent its members to bolster Syria’s President Bashar Assad forces in their assault on some rebel-held areas.