UK to ban Hezbollah in its entirety

February 26, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The World Jewish Congress has welcomed the announcement by British Home Secretary Sajid Javid confirming that the political wing of Hezbollah would be banned in the United Kingdom.

The flag of the Hezbollah terrorist group, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as “Iran’s chief terrorist proxy” in his speech to Congress on Tuesday. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Until now only the military wing, and not the political wing, of the terrorist organization has been banned in the UK, enabling supporters of the Iranian-backed militant group to parade in the UK streets during the annual Al-Quds Day march waving Hezbollah flags.

In Australia, only the military wing is banned.

WJC CEO & Executive Vice President Robert Singer said: “It is clear that there is no distinction between the so-called political and military wings of Hezbollah, which has for many years engaged in and promoted terrorist activity around the world. It is absolutely right that the UK no longer makes such a distinction and has recognized Hezbollah for exactly what it is: a terrorist organization. We hope that other countries, as well as the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of American States, will follow this lead and also proscribe Hezbollah outright.”

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and WJC Vice President said: “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. 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.”

For the past few weeks, the diplomatic flagship program of the WJC, the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, has been executing a global public diplomacy campaign with the objective of encouraging the international community to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps have been conducting outreach to diplomatic missions in 50 countries, published media pieces in numerous countries, and executing a global social media campaign. The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps has also worked specifically to oppose and prevent the Al-Quds Day parade in London and the inclusion of Hezbollah flags and symbols in the streets of Europe.

The WJC has also been urging the Organization of the American States and all its members to formally designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

Hezbollah was responsible for the deaths of 85 people in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires and remains a threat to Jewish communities around the world. Thus far, the Arab League, Bahrain, Canada, France, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, the Netherlands, the UAE and the United States, have designated the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

In Israel, Member of Knesset Omer Bar-Lev, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a former IDF general, welcome “the fact that the British government finally recognizes that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and as we have always argued – there is no differentiating between the political the military wings, when they are the same illegitimate terror organization with the same murderous ideology whose purpose is to harm the State of Israel and the Middle East in general.”

Hezbollah was established in 1985 during the Lebanese civil war and is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel. It his funded and supported by Iran.

In its decision, the UK noted that Hezbollah “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 war since 2012 continues to prolong the conflict and the regime’s brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.”

Peter Wertheim, the co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “We welcome the British decision and urge the Australian government to follow suit.

By listing only Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation, rather than Hezbollah as a whole, Australia has been endorsing a fiction.  Hezbollah leaders themselves have openly and repeatedly declared that no substantive separation exists between its different wings.

The organisation from its inception has glorified, promoted and carried out acts of terrorism, not only in Lebanon but around the world.  It was responsible for the bombings of the Israeli Consulate in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed 29 people, the AMIA Jewish Community Centre in that city in 1994; which killed 85 people, and an Israeli tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2012, which killed 6 people. Several hundred other civilians were maimed or wounded in these attacks.

Hezbollah is prosecuting a war of annihilation not only against the State of Israel but against Jewish communities everywhere.  Hezbollah’s official television station, Al-Manar TV, disseminates antisemitic conspiracy theories, glorification of terrorism and incitement to violence.  Hossam Yaakoub, a Hezbollah member arrested in Cyprus in 2012, told Cypriot Police: “I was just collecting information about the Jews. This is what my organisation is doing, everywhere in the world.”

Australia should list Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organisation and cease all direct contacts with it.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council added: “Australia’s current limited terrorist listing of Hezbollah’s “External Security Organisation” is ineffective and insufficient, as the Government’s own intelligence committee reported in 2018.

For years, AIJAC has called on the Australian Government to extend its listing to the entirety of Hezbollah. Hezbollah leaders are very open that the group does not operate through separate “wings”, so treating the “political” and “military” wings of the organisation differently is not only making a distinction without a difference but simply gives Hezbollah the means to evade law enforcement and financial sanctions.

Many of our key allies, including the US, France, Japan, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands, have long recognised this, and now that Britain is also following suit, Australia’s position on Hezbollah appears increasingly inadequate. 

It remains worrying that Australians can legally send money to much of Hezbollah, fly Hezbollah flags on Australian streets and openly espouse support for the group.

We suggest  Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs  takes a close look at Britain’s recent announcement and urgently reviews Australia’s listing.”

TPS contributed to this report

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