MPs are to debate whether to designate the entire Hezbollah group a terrorist organisation, as opposed to just its armed wing as at present, to render the flying of its flag illegal in the UK.
The House of Commons debate, scheduled for 25 January, was secured after 15 MPs led by pro-Israel lobby groups pressed for action to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety, a move Jewish community leaders have long sought.
Jennifer Gerber of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) acknowledged the contribution of LFI chair Joan Ryan MP in securing the debate, saying: “Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, driven by an antisemitic ideology, which seeks the destruction of Israel.
Gerber added: “The British government has repeatedly failed to take action to ban it in its entirety. This debate is intended to increase the pressure on them to do so without further delay and excuses.”
Calling for a debate, Ryan was joined by Labour parliamentary colleagues, including Wes Streeting, Louise Ellman and John Woodcock, along with several Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politicians, such as Jim Shannon and Ian Paisley Jr.
The Zionist Federation this week launched an appeal for members and supporters to write to their local MPs calling for backing in the bid to proscribe the whole group. Currently, Hezbollah’s political wing is not classed as a terrorist organisation.
The sight of yellow Hezbollah flag on the streets of London has been seen for years during the annual Al-Quds Day March through the capital, as anti-Israel protesters used the “legal loophole” to legally fly the group’s flag by claiming that they only supported the political wing.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, whose department is responsible for maintaining the UK’s official list of proscribed organisations, has been repeatedly pressed to ban the whole group, given that the militia’s own leaders see no difference between one wing and another.
A Zionist Federation spokesman said it was “extraordinary” that a militia hostile to Israel and supported by Iran was not banned in the UK.
Former MP Michael McCann, director of the UK Israel Alliance, a ZF project, said the debate was “long overdue,” adding: “If this government doesn’t ban Hezbollah their hollow words will on terror will echo around the country.”