Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim Sunday of absolutely reliable intelligence linking Hezbollah to the bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria last week was apparently aimed at supporting his government's determination to get the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
The Netanyahu claim in interviews on Fox News Sunday and CBS Face the Nation of "rock solid" intelligence on the bombing was accompanied by an announcement that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would travel to Brussels Monday to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and foreign ministers of nine EU member states to persuade them to put Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organisations.
Netanyahu, who usually emphasises Iran's role in terrorism, focused primarily on Hezbollah's alleged culpability.
Unlike the United States, the EU has never officially considered Hezbollah to be a terrorist organisation, but Netanyahu believes that pinning the Bulgarian bombing on Hezbollah gives him political leverage on the EU to change that.
Lieberman was quoted Sunday as saying the bombing in Bulgaria "has changed the way in which Hezbollah is seen."
For months, Netanyau has been building a case that Iran has been carrying out a worldwide campaign of terrorism. That narrative is based, however, on a systematic and highly successful Israeli campaign of shaping the news coverage of a series of murky allegations about terrorist actions or efforts in Baku, Tibilisi, Bangkok and Delhi, and into stories fitting neatly into the overall narrative.
Netanyahu used sweeping language about the alleged intelligence underlying his charge that Hezbollah carried out the Bulgarian tourist bombing, but refused to offer any further information to back it up.
In the interview on Fox News Sunday, Netanyahu said, "We know with absolute certainty, without a shadow of a doubt that this is a Hezbollah operation."... But despite being asked by interviewer Chris Wallace for some indication of the nature of the intelligence, he would say only that information had been shared with "friendly agencies."
When the heads of Mossad and Shin Bet, Tamir Pardo and Yoram Cohen, briefed the Israeli cabinet Sunday on those agencies' efforts against what were described as Iranian and Hezbollah plans for terrorism in more than 20 countries, they were not reported to have presented hard intelligence supporting the claim of Hezbollah responsibility for the Bulgarian bombing.
If the Israeli government did share intelligence information on Hezbollah and the Bulgarian bombing with the Central Intelligence Agency as Netanyahu claimed, it did not register with the senior U.S. officials on Jul. 19.
When a "senior U.S. official" was quoted by the New York Times that day confirming the Israeli assertion that the bomber who carried out the operation was "a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria," he was apparently merely making assumptions rather than relying on any hard evidence.
Also on July 19, Pentagon press secretary George Little said, "I don't know that anybody has assessed attribution for this cowardly action."
On Jul. 20, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was "not in a position to make a statement about responsibility."
Netanyahu declared immediately after the news of the Bulgarian bus bombing July 18 that Iran was responsible for the attack. In support of the charge, he cited recent alleged terrorist incidents in a number of other countries. "All the signs lead to Iran," he said.
But Netanyahu offered no proof, and the Israeli Embassy in Washington acknowledged to CNN on July 19 that it had no proof that Iran was the instigator of the attack.
Netanyahu also argued in his Fox News interview, as well as in an appearance on CBS Face the Nation, that an Iran/Hezbollah connection to the bombing of the Israeli tourist bus could be reasonably inferred from a Hezbollah terrorist plan that had been discovered in Cyprus only a week earlier.