London MPs and Jewish community representatives this week reacted with hope to speculation that the UK Government is poised to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety.
The Lebanon-based militia is also a political party and the Government currently divides the group into an armed and political wing – the latter of which it does not proscribe, meaning the group’s flags can be flown on British streets.
However, community leaders and parliamentarians were quietly hopeful of movement on Wednesday, following reports that new Home Secretary Sajid Javid was preparing to proscribe the group in its entirety.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who represents Richmond Park, said: “Even Hezbollah doesn’t pretend there is a difference between the military and political wings of the terrorist organisation, so it makes no sense that the Government does. If the new Home Secretary rights that wrong, good for him.”
Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We have long argued for the full proscription of Hezbollah. The Home Secretary’s reported intervention is welcome and I would urge him to raise this with his colleague the Foreign Secretary as well to ensure that the proposal is adopted.”
- OPINION – Mark Lewis: Police saw my wheelchair as a greater threat than a machine gun
- OPINION – Vladimir Sloutsker: If the international community is serious about fighting terror – it must ban Hezbollah now
- Al Quds Day: Top lawyer blocks pro-Hezbollah terror march in his wheelchair
Community Security Trust (CST) director Mark Gardner said: “We welcome the possible change of heart and will continue working with all of our partners to pursue a full UK ban on the group.”
Israel-Britain Alliance director Michael McCann said the move “will be welcomed by IBA’s partners and supporters, if and when it happens,” cautioning that “the Home Office has the power to proscribe Hezbollah, but the Foreign Office also has considerable influence”.
Diplomats recognise that Hezbollah now effectively runs Lebanon, after elections earlier this year returned the largest slice of seats to the Iranian-backed militia and its allies, but the Government has said it does not deal with any element of the group.