The United Kingdom’s home secretary announced on Monday that the Tory government has designated the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist entity. The labeling requires parliamentary approval from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Corbyn considers Hezbollah his “friends.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “My priority as home secretary is to protect the British people. As part of this, we identify and ban any terrorist organization which threatens our safety and security, whatever their motivations or ideology, which is why I am taking action against several organizations today.”
He added that, “Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.”
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said; “We are staunch supporters of a stable and prosperous Lebanon. We cannot, however, be complacent when it comes to terrorism. It is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.”
Hunt noted that, “This does not change our ongoing commitment to Lebanon, with whom we have a broad and strong relationship.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration said: “The government has taken the decision to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety on the basis that it is no longer tenable to distinguish between the military and political wings of Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah, established during Lebanon’s 1975 to 1990 civil war, is committed to armed resistance to the State of Israel. It continues to amass weapons in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions, putting the security of the region at risk. Its involvement in the Syrian civil war since 2012 continues to prolong the conflict and the regime’s brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, praised the Conservative government’s move to sanction all of Hezbollah because, “the separation between the political and armed wings is a false and artificial separation, because both are controlled and supported by Iran, and enable the organization to continue to raise funds on European soil.
“We will continue to lead the struggle for the Security Council to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and mobilize the international community against it, as it serves as an arm of Iran to spread Tehran’s aggression.”
The Sunday Telegraph’s political editor Edward Malnick first reported on the expected ban on Saturday, writing that “Sajid Javid is preparing to ban Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as soon as this week.”
The article said that, “The home secretary is expected to proscribe the entire Shia organization as a terrorist group, preventing supporters from parading its flag through the streets of Britain. The move will have to be approved by Parliament, raising the prospect that it could be opposed by Jeremy Corbyn, who once referred to members of the group as ‘friends.’”
The United Kingdom and the European Union only classify Hezbollah’s so-called military wing a terrorist entity. Hezbollah political members operate in the United Kingdom and appear at the annual al-Quds Day rally in London with Hezbollah flags. The rally promotes the destruction of Israel.
The Telegraph noted that “it follows warnings by MPs that the UK had created a false distinction by proscribing the military wing of the group, but failing to outlaw its political side.”
On Monday, a draft order was laid in Parliament that will proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety alongside Ansaroul Islam and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), which operate in the Sahel region of Africa. Subject to the parliament’s approval, from Friday when the order comes into effect, being a member or inviting support from these organizations will be a criminal offense with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
According to the Telegraph article, an MP well-versed with Javid’s plan to ban Hezbollah said: “It has been worked on for some time and is now imminent – and long overdue. It was a curious anomaly not to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well, given that such a range of other countries had made a similar decision. In the current climate, it is a really strong signal that we won’t tolerate celebrations of terrorism and antisemitism on the streets of the UK.”
The Jerusalem Post reported on articles in the London-based Jewish Chronicle last June and September which said that Javid was slated to outlaw all of Hezbollah, but the reports did not materialize. Britain banned Hezbollah’s military wing in 2008 because the Lebanese militia attacked UK soldiers in Iraq. However, the United Kingdom allows Hezbollah’s political wing to operate.
The United States, Canada, the Arab League, the Netherlands and Israel consider Hezbollah to be a unified terrorist entity without separate military and political wings.
The European Union designated Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization in 2013 due to Hezbollah’s role in blowing up an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, which resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver. An additional 32 Israelis were injured in the terrorist attack.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has steadfastly refused to outlaw all of Hezbollah. There are 950 Hezbollah members in the federal republic who raise funds, recruit new members and spread antisemitism, according to 2018 German intelligence reports reviewed by the Post.
“We have made it clear that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and asked all allies to consider the same designation,” US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told The Washington Examiner in December.
A specialized Bulgarian court for terrorism crimes is currently holding a trial in absentia for the two Hezbollah operatives who participated in blowing up the Israeli bus. The Hezbollah suspects, Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah and Lebanese-Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, have fled to Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities have refused to extradite the men to Bulgaria, and Interpol has issued warrants for their arrest.
Reacting to the announcement of the government’s move to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council; and David Delew, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, said: “We welcome the home secretary’s move to proscribe Hezbollah in full. The Jewish community, including our organizations and leading community newspapers, have long led the call for this ban.
“Hezbollah was responsible for the deaths of 85 people in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, and remains a threat to Jewish communities around the world, launching deadly attacks against civilians in Israel and Bulgaria, and planning for attacks in other places such as Cyprus.
“The group’s genocidal intentions towards world Jewry were made clear in 1992 when they stated: ‘The war is on until Israel ceases to exist and the last Jew in the world has been eliminated,’” the three continued in their joint statement.
“The case against Hezbollah has grown as the world has witnessed the terrorist organization’s widespread and active complicity in the wanton slaughter of civilians in Syria in support of [Syrian President] Bashar Assad and his allies. The previously held false distinction between the ‘political’ and ‘military’ wings was denied by even the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, who said that, ‘The story of [a seperate] military wing and political wing is the work of the British.’”
“This has led to a situation where Hezbollah supporters were free to parade the flags of this antisemitic terrorist organization on the streets of London,” they continued. “Following today’s announcement, we call on all of the relevant authorities to ensure that this will no longer be tolerated. The government, and in particular the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary, have our thanks for their leadership on this issue, and we encourage other countries to follow suit,” they said.
“We would hope that all political parties would back this measure to secure our community and the rest of the UK from the murderous, antisemitic terrorists of Hezbollah. It is customary for terrorism proscriptions to be supported on a cross-party basis, and we call on MPs and peers to back the motions in both Houses of Parliament this week.”
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