Israel called on the international community to follow Great Britain’s example and freeze the assets of Hezbollah’s political wing. It also asked countries to recognize both the political and military wings of the Lebanese-based group as terrorist organizations.
“Hezbollah is a terror group, all its units serving the same purpose. We expect more countries to follow the UK,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz added that he specifically expected the governments of Germany, Brazil and Australia to move against the terrorist group.
“I applaud the British government for its decision to include all Hezbollah organizations, including the political echelon, under the legislation that allows freezing all of its assets as a terrorist organization,” Katz tweeted. “This is a great achievement for the State of Israel in the fight against Iran and its metastasis in the region, led by Hezbollah.”
On Friday in Washington, Brian Hook, the Special Representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, welcomed the move stating, “There is no distinction between Hezbollah’s political arm and its military arm.
“I remember when I was negotiating with the E3 [Britain, France and Germany] on trying to fix the deficiencies of the Iran nuclear deal. This was a regular topic – of the need to be designating Hezbollah in its entirety. We are very pleased to see the United Kingdom took that step,” Hook said.
On Thursday, Great Britain expanded the scope of its asset-freezing measures against Hezbollah to cover the entire organization, not just its military wing.
The Finance Ministry’s move follows Britain’s decision last year to classify the whole group a terrorist organization due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East.
The heavily armed Shi’ite group was established in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It is widely seen as the most powerful player in Lebanon and is part of an Iranian-led regional alliance in conflict with US-allied Gulf Arab states.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he welcomed the measure, adding that Europe was waking up to the threat from proxies of Iran.
There was no immediate reaction from Hezbollah, which itself does not acknowledge separate units. Last year, it said Britain’s decision to list it as a terrorist organization showed London’s “servile obedience” to Washington, which gives it the same classification.
Inside Britain, Hezbollah has been a topic of political controversy. The opposition Labour Party has questioned whether the government’s decision to censure Hezbollah outright was based on new evidence, or political opportunism.
Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticized by opponents for once calling the group his friends.
Countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Paraguay, Honduras, the Netherlands and Australia recognize both Hezbollah’s military and political wing as terrorist groups. Germany and the European Union only recognize its military wing as a terrorist entity.