Israel furious after French FM meets with Hezbollah

While even most Arab countries recognize Hezbollah in its entirety as a terror organization, the European Union only lists its military wing on its terrorist blacklist, enabling French FM Jean-Marc Ayrault to meet with Hezbollah politicians.

Jerusalem had harsh words for French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault following his meeting with a delegation of Hezbollah politicians in Lebanon on Tuesday, saying he should abide by standards practiced by nations in the region.

“It’s a shame that the French foreign minister didn’t consult with Arab states that do not make a distinction between the military and political arms of Hezbollah. It’s clear that Foreign Minister Ayrault would not meet with the ‘political wing’ of Islamic State,” Israel’s foreign ministry stated on Tuesday.

In March, the 22-member Arab League formally branded Lebanon’s Hezbollah group a terrorist organization. Earlier in the month, the Saudi-led bloc of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) made the same decision.

While most countries in the Middle East have recognized Hezbollah in its entirety as a terror organization, the European Union (EU) only lists its military wing on its terrorist blacklist. This enables Ayrault to meet with Hezbollah politicians who are closely associated with the terror organization, which has fought bitterly against Israel existence and has generated instability throughout the region.

Ayrault is on a two-day visit to Beirut two help Lebanon with its political crisis. He told reporters that resolving Lebanon’s two-year-old crisis is a must to help deal with the security and economic problems plaguing the country.

Lebanon has been without a president since President Michel Suleiman stepped down in May 2014 at the end of his term, because of deep divisions between its politicians. Both the Cabinet and the parliament have been paralyzed.

The country has also suffered bouts of violence in the past few years, a spillover from neighboring Syria’s civil war. Lebanon, a tiny country with a population of around 4.5 million, is also hosting more than a million Syrian refugees.

. AP contributed to this report.