Netanyahu: ‘If Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization, who is?’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister called on European Union states who refuse to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization to change their minds.

“It’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  If Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t know what is a terrorist organization.  I mean, they’re butchering people left and right across the world and now in the cities of Syria,” Netanyahu said Thursday in Jerusalem during joint remarks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

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All 27 member-states of the EU must approve a decision to blacklist Hezbollah. At a meeting Wednesday in Brussels, a consensus on blacklisting Hezbollah still had not been reached.

Netanyahu also told Ashton that he appreciates efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel to restart direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is ready to resume peace talks “without preconditions today, yesterday and tomorrow,” he said.

Ashton responded: “I’m fully supportive of the work that Secretary Kerry is undertaking.  I know he’s travelled many times already to talk with you, to talk with President Abbas.  And as I’ve made clear, I’m fully supportive of his work.  I said this in Ramallah last night, I say it here in Jerusalem, that we want this to be the way forward, to bring direct negotiations and Europe will support that wholeheartedly.  It is, as you rightly indicate, the way forward.”

Ashton added that she understands that security is paramount to Israel and that it “plays a big part in the approach that we take to these efforts that are going forward.”

The two leaders also were expected to discuss Iran during their Thursday meeting.