Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Belgian ambassador met Hizbollah leader

Let's see. There is a non-governmental organization operating out of Southern Lebanon with tons of weapons and millions of dollars, which bankrolls Palestinian terror cells, whose website says "Hezbollah's ideological ideals sees no legitimacy for the existence of 'Israel' ", which doesn't accept UN-defined borders between Israel and Lebanon, which has taught West Bank Palestinians the art of suicide bombing - and Belgium can't quite yet figure out that this is a terrorist organization.

The Foreign Ministry called in Belgium's ambassador Jean-Michel Veranneman de Watervliet on Monday to protest a meeting that his colleague, the Belgian ambassador to Lebanon, held last week with Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

The meeting with Nasrallah took place at a time when Israel is pressing the EU to place Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations.

De Watervliet was called to the Foreign Ministry for a meeting with Ran Curiel, the ministry's deputy director-general and head of its Western Europe department, and Jeremy Issacharoff, deputy directory-general and head of the Division for Strategic Affairs, which deals with antiterrorism issues.

"We expressed our displeasure," Issacharoff said. "We believe these meetings accord the organization – which kills innocent civilians – a legitimacy it doesn't deserve."

Issacharoff said the timing of this meeting with Nasrallah was particularly inopportune, inasmuch as Hizbullah is trying to scuttle attempt to calm down the situation in the territories by trying to carry out terrorist actions in Israel, and trying to ignite the northern border.

"We explained Hizbullah's activities in the territories, and how they are bankrolling terror cells and passing on expertise," Issacharoff said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Hizbullah is currently running some 50 terrorist cells within the Palestinian Authority.

In 2004, according to the ministry, Hizbullah transferred some $9 million to these cells, which carried out 60 attacks and killed 24 Israelis.

De Watervliet told The Jerusalem Post that he has already passed on Israel's protests to the Belgian Foreign Ministry. He said that he was unaware, before he was called to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, that such a meeting with Nasrallah took place.

"The Belgian government has always condemned terrorism," the ambassador said, adding that the Belgian government does not have a firm stand on whether Hizbullah should be added to the EU's list of terrorist organizations.