Published: July 22, 2013
BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers Monday added the military wing of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah to a list of terrorist organizations.
“It is good that the E.U. has decided to call Hezbollah what it is: a terrorist organization,” Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, said in a statement shortly after the decision.
The move would have the effect of “limiting its capacity to act,” said Mr. Timmermans, referring to Hezbollah.
The decision to put members of Hezbollah on the European Union terror list required the unanimous consent of the bloc’s 28 members. Sanctions are expected to include travel bans and asset freezes.
Britain led the effort after a terrorist attack in Bulgaria a year ago that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver and the conviction in March of a Hezbollah operative in Cyprus for plotting a similar attack. Britain said the attack and planning of the second attack were carried out on European Union soil, leaving members with no other choice than to blacklist the military wing.
Israel, the Netherlands and the United States, which already list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, pressed hard for the bloc’s member states to follow suit.
The decision, long sought by Israel, follows another move last week by the European Union that upset the Israeli government: imposing financing restrictions to push Israel to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians.
Support for the sanctions against Hezbollah grew in recent months because of the group’s strong support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in his military campaign against a two-year uprising.
To reach the decision, Ireland and Austria were among the countries that dropped their opposition. Both countries have peacekeepers in the Middle East patrolling cease-fire zones like those separating Israel from Lebanon and Syria.
Those countries were wary of destabilizing Lebanon by cracking down on militant elements like Hezbollah, and of eroding their own influence on events there.