In a momentous decision Monday, the European Union (EU) designated the military wing of the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah. The decision to embargo the Iran-backed Shi'ite militant group was spearheaded by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The designation will significantly impact Hizballah's operations in Europe, including the terrorist group's ability to raise funds and engage in logistics and terrorist activity on European territory.
Although the United States designated Hizballah in 1995, the EU has been dragging its feet. Efforts to ban the group gained momentum following last year's attack on a tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber. More recently, the terrorist group has joined forces with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad that has intensified the Shia-Sunni strife in the region.
Both the U.S. and Israel applauded the EU decision. "As Hezbollah has deepened its support for the brutal Assad regime and worked to expand its global reach through increased involvement in international criminal schemes and terrorist plots around the world, a growing number of governments are recognizing Hezbollah as the dangerous and destabilizing terrorist organization that it is," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a prepared statement.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni described the decision as "just and correct." She said that "Finally, after years of discussions and deliberations, [they] have failed, and rightly so, in their attempt to claim that they are a legitimate political party."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the EU to go further, designating Hizballah's political arm. It "is one organization, the arms of which are indistinguishable," he said, calling Hizballah an "Iranian protectorate" with tens of thousands of rockets at its disposal.
Hizballah has waged terror attacks against the United States and Israel. In 1983, the Lebanon-based group killed 240 people in an attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. Hizballah, along with its chief patron Iran, had been alleged to have waged attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994.