It is not a “valid distinction” to differentiate between Hezbollah’s military and political wings, Alan Shatter, Ireland’s minister for defense, justice and equality, told the Lebanese website The Daily Star.
“I think Hezbollah is a single organization,” he continued, adding: “it doesn’t reflect … the structure of the IRA [Irish Republican Army] where the IRA, or Provisional IRA, was a military wing and Sinn Fein was a political wing.”
The minister was commenting on the emerging European Union debate over whether Hezbollah should be officially designated a terrorist organization following an investigation by Bulgarian authorities into a suicide bombing in that country last summer that pointed the finger of culpability at the Lebanese Shiite organization.
“Whether Hezbollah would be named a terrorist organization or not from a European perspective is a matter that remains to be considered by European justice ministers,” Shatter said.
Ireland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, hosted a meeting of EU justice ministers in January during which Bulgaria briefed attendees on the progress of this investigation, Shatter added.
While condemning the attack, Shatter highlighted that it is “important … that the Bulgarian authorities complete their investigation, and that we don’t jump to conclusions.”
Shatter was in Lebanon on the first leg of a trip to the region during which he will be briefed by Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian Arab officials.
The only EU member state that currently lists Hezbollah as a terrorist group is the Netherlands, while the United Kingdom distinguishes between Hezbollah’s political and military wings, proscribing the latter as a terrorist organization.