Amber Rudd has told Sadiq Khan she won’t be giving a running commentary on whether she is considering banning Hezbollah in its entirety.
The mayor of London was said to be “extremely disappointed” at the home secretary’s response, which came three months after he wrote to her calling for action.
He had joined a chorus of calls for full proscription in the wake of the latest al Quds parade in central London, where marchers exploited a “loophole” to wave Hezbollah flags, which feature the image of a gun. Both the political and military wing, which is already banned, have the same flag and some marchers added disclaimers claiming they were supporting the political wing.
Rudd last week wrote to thank the mayor for making representations on behalf of the Jewish community. “However, as you’ll be aware, whilst the list of proscribed organisations is kept under review, it is not the Government’s policy to comment on whether or not a group is under consideration for proscription,” she said.
Under the current law, she said, police would have to be clear that the “context and manner” in which the flag was displayed constituted specific support for the armed wing. “Context would include any information from the individual about intent. Officers will also consider whether other legislation, such as the Public Order Act, could be applied.”
Rudd added that the current proscription “sends clear message that we condemn Hezbollah’s violence and support for terrorism. We continue to call on Hezbollah to end its terrorist activity”.
A source close to the mayor said: “He is extremely disappointed in the response from the Home Secretary.”
Community leaders have long argued that Hezbollah’s own leaders don’t differentiate between different wings.
Last week, Jewish News and the Zionist Federation launched a government petition calling for a total ban on Hezbollah. Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel are among the organisations to have demanded action.