A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Thursday that calls on the European Union to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The legislation, introduced by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), seeks to encourage the 27-nation block to designate both its military and political wings as terrorist entities. Currently, the E.U. only includes Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations.
The United States makes no distinction between its branches and includes Hezbollah in its entirety on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization List. Several individual E.U. member states also recognize this, including Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist organization notorious for operating throughout the Middle East,” said Blackburn. “However, it derives both financial support and political legitimacy from every region of the world. The European Union cannot enable terrorists by allowing them to participate in diplomacy.”
The American Jewish Committee, which has long advocated for governments to label Hezbollah as a terrorist group, praised the bill.
“We encourage swift passage of this important bipartisan resolution in the House and Senate. It is past time for the E.U. to do the right thing and correct the fiction of a bifurcated Hezbollah it endorsed nearly a decade ago,” said its CEO David Harris.
“Mistakenly believing it can tame Hezbollah’s behavior, a proposition unsupported by evidence, the E.U. has created ‘military’ and ‘political’ wings within Hezbollah, when, in reality, it is a single, unified terrorist entity,” he added.
AJC said that designating Hezbollah in its entirety would empower European governments to take stronger steps to prevent the group from organizing and fundraising within member countries’ borders. It could also lead to the issuance of arrest warrants against members and active supporters of Hezbollah, the freezing of its assets in Europe and a prohibition of fundraising activities on its behalf.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) introduced similar legislation in the House over the summer.
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