EU faces ‘great risk’ if it fails to curb Hizbollah

Hizbollah militants in Lebanon. The UK government wants them banned (Photo: AP)

Hizbollah militants in Lebanon. The UK government wants them banned (Photo: AP)

Iran’s provision of money, military equipment and training to Hizbollah and terror groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, is of “serious concern”, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt has told Parliament.

He said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ involvement in terror attacks in Thailand, India, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kenya was increasingly worrying.

Mr Burt said the government was eager to see a “robust response” from the European Union to the suicide bombing carried out by Hizbollah in Bulgaria last July which killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver.

Europe faces a “great risk” in failing to respond to that attack, he said, and should not fear instability in Lebanon if the EU was to proscribe Hizbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.

Mr Burt was speaking in a Commons debate on Hizbollah brought by Labour Friends of Israel vice-chair Michael McCann last Thursday.

Mr McCann called on the government to take “decisive action” and praised Israel’s air strike on a Syrian missile depot and chemical weapons sites.

He said that while a “full ban on Hizbollah may be difficult to achieve, Britain must send a powerful message that we do not tolerate Hizbollah’s and Iran’s terrorism, and that we will work hard to curtail terrorist fundraising and recruitment across Europe”.

A delegation of British Jewish community representatives met Helga Schmid, deputy head of the EU’s external action service last month to push for a Europe-wide ban on Hizbollah.

Their visit followed Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for the community to help him persuade the EU to outlaw the group.

Last updated: 6:45pm, May 17 2013