BRUSSELS (EJP) --- As Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrived in Brussels Monday, ahead of Tuesday planned meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, the body governing Israel's relations with the EU, EU Foreign Ministers pledged a clear commitment to Lebanon's “stability”.
Lieberman is widely expected to call on his European counterparts to include Hezbollah in the EU list of terrorist organisations at the meeting on the sidelines of the EU Foreign Affairs Council forum, after Israel has branded the shiite Lebanese group responsible for last week’s terror attack on Israel tourists in Bulgaria.
He is also expcted to ask that security arrangements be boosted in aiports in Europe and in Israeli and Jewish facilities in their respective countries.
Apparently pre-empting his calls, an echo of those issued by the European Jewish Congress in the wake of Wednesday attacks in Burgas, the Council issued a statement Monday calling on “all Lebanese to refrain from violent actions, promote calm, and work toward defusing tensions”.
Further encouraging government efforts “to maintain security, notably by making clear that proliferation of arms, criminal activities and are form of violence are unacceptable”, the Council’s conclusions came after a report in daily The New York Times last week seemingly confirmed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that the suspected Bulgaria bomber was a member of Hezbollah.
Quoting an unnamed US official, the report stated that the bomber “had been acting under broad guidance” to hit Israel targets if and when the opportunity arose, claiming the orders were given by Iran, a key sponsor of the Lebanese group.
Meanwhile, the EU Council continued to stress “the importance of strong, independent, impartial and democratic institutions for the security of Lebanon’s future”, an apparent call on the government to distance itself from Islamist groups.
Its statement also once again praised the government for its humanitarian efforts in housing fleeing Syrian refugees from the violent regime in the Middle Eastern country, adding its condemnation of “recent incursions and other security incidents along the border with Syria, leading to the killing, injury and abduction of civilians at the hands of Syrian forces”.
Israel has emphasised its concern about Syria’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of Islamist radicals, after claims by Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah last week that “the Syrian leadership was risking it interests and existence in order for resistance in Lebanon and Palestine to be strong”.
Former (Israeli intelligence agency) Mossad chief Danny Yatom warned “Israel will not sit idle” when faced with the prospect of Syrian weapons falling into the hands of Islamist resistance fighters or Hezbollah. “If we will have information that chemical agents or biological agents are about to fall into the hands of Hezbollah, we will not spare any effort to stop it”.
Lieberman meanwhile met with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Brussels and warned that whilst Israel would not “interfere” in Syria, any attempt by the Syrian regime to arm Hezbollah “would be crossing a red line”, adding that in such a case “Israel would not restrain itself from acting forcefully”.
Lieberman was scheduled to meet with Catherine Ashton and the Foreign Ministers of Britain, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Holland, Croatia, Slovakia, Sweden, Greece and Belgium.
Lieberman will explain the Europeans that there is concrete evidence the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was involved in the bombing of an Israeli tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, last week in which five Israelis were killed, "which is only the latest crime in a long series of terrorist acts."
The fact that Hezbollah is responsible to a large extent for the violence and lack of quiet and stability in the Middle East "obligates the European states to act and to relate to the organization in the appropriate manner," the Israeli minister will tell the EU.
Contrary to Hamas, the Islamist group governing the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah has not been put on the EU list of terrorist organizations.
Strenghtening the ties between Israel and the EU, bilateral issues and developments in the Middle East and their impact on the region are also on the agenda of Lieberman's talks.