Sadiq Khan has urged the Home Secretary to fully ban Hezbollah – becoming the most high-profile figure to do so in recent weeks.
The London Mayor confirmed to Labour London assembly member Andrew Dismore that he’d write to Amber Rudd after flags of the terror group were openly flown during the al-Quds parade in the capital last month, with the police taking no action.
Figures from across the political spectrum have called for a change in the law to proscribe the political wing, just as the military wing already is. Hezbollah – whose own leaders acknowledge the two wings are one in the same thing – is banned in full by the US, Canada and the Arab League.
The loophole in the law was exposed during the latest parade when organisers pinned disclaimers to the rifle-laden flags stressing specific support for the political wing.
Sadiq Khan told Jewish News: “I share the concerns of London’s Jewish community and others about support shown for Hezbollah, an illegal, proscribed and anti-Semitic organisation, at the annual Al Quds Day march. Anti-Semitism or hate crime of any kind has no place in our city, where we don’t just tolerate diversity, we respect and celebrate it.
“I remain in contact with the Met Commissioner about this issue, and will be writing to the Home Secretary to make strong representations on behalf of London’s Jewish communities about their legitimate and understandable concerns. I will continue to work with the Met and communities across the capital to do everything in my power to crack down on extremism and ensure London’s Jewish communities feel safe and secure in London.”
Khan’s intervention comes two weeks after a bad tempered clash between the mayor and Conservative London assembly member Andrew Boff, who repeatedly urged him to write to Rudd on the issue. The mayor refused at the time to commit, saying only he’d assess other representations and make a decision at that point.
Boff said: “We welcome news that the mayor has finally been pressured into taking action against this appalling anti-Semitic organisation but why has it taken him weeks to do so?
“He is taking action now because he was asked again by a member of his own party and is under pressure to act.”
Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel are among those to have called for the government to proscribe the group. The Jewish Labour Movement also urged this in its pre-election manifesto.
Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl supported the Mayor’s call, saying: “This is a welcome step by the Mayor which is fully supported by the Board of Deputies. Hezbollah itself does not distinguish between its military and political wing which, is one and the same. The Government urgently needs to follow the example of the USA, Canada and the Arab League by outlawing Hezbollah in its entirety. It is a terrorist organisation – end of.”
Andrew Dismore said: “I have spent over a decade campaigning for the complete proscription of Hezbollah, as I believe the distinction made between the ‘political’ and ‘military’ wings to be utterly bogus.
“I am pleased the Mayor has recognised my work on this and has agreed to write to the Home Secretary. This ban is long overdue.”