Lebanese group Hezbollah has said the EU listing of its military wing makes the Union a party to any future Israeli assault.
Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, made the statement on TV after a sunset meal on Wednesday (24 July) with women who work for the Islamic Resistance Support Association, a Hezbollah fundraising outfit.
He said: “They are giving legal cover to Israel for any attack on Lebanon, because Israel can now claim to be fighting terrorism and to be bombing terrorist targets.”
He noted that the blacklisting, decided by EU foreign ministers on Monday, undermines European countries’ sovereignty because it was made under Israeli and US pressure.
“Some EU member states considered the step to be illegal, but they yielded to intimidation,” he said.
He called the move an “insult” to Lebanese “resistance fighters.”
But he said the related asset freeze will not make a difference because “we don’t have money in European banks.”
He added that the EU should blacklist the Israeli army, the IDF, because it is an illegal occupying force which frequently kills Arab civilians.
“Those who kill, commit massacres, occupy land, and prevent an entire nation [Palestine] from returning to its territory, aren’t they terrorists?” he said.
Amid fears by some EU states the listing could destabilise Lebanon, Nasrallah warned the country’s caretaker government not to “exploit” the European decision by trying to form a new cabinet without its people.
He joked that Hezbollah ministers in the future Lebanese government will come from its military staff, after the EU said it wants to keep talking to Hezbollah politicians.
But in a sign the group itself is keen to maintain contact, Hezbollah’s website notes that one of its top foreign policy officials, Ammar Moussawi, will meet with the EU ambassador in Beirut, Angelina Eichhorst, on Thursday.
Hezbollah is a Shia Muslim group formed during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s.
It claims victory in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict – which saw the death of some 1,000 Lebanese and 40 Israeli civilians – because it held back the IDF for 33 days before Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon.
Meanwhile, one motive for the EU listing is Hezbollah’s recent defeat of Western-backed Sunni Muslim rebels in fighting around the Syrian town of Qusair.
For his part, Alastair Crooke, a former British intelligence officer who now runs an NGO in Beirut, told EUobserver the Qusair story is more complicated than it is often reported.
He said when Lebanon gained independence in the 1940s, several Shia Muslim villages ended up in Sunni-majority Syria in the Qusair region. When the villages came under attack by Sunni rebels, they first formed town militias and then called for Hezbollah intervention.
“It is a grave mistake for the EU to take sides in the [Syrian] civil war,” he said.