Netanyahu thanks May for Hezbollah ban

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Theresa May for her Government’s decision to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

Netanyahu spoke with May to express Israel’s gratitude for the decision taken by Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Javid said last week that: “Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.”

At the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told his ministers: “This is an important decision because Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation in its own right, and it is also the main terrorist arm of Iran. I call on other countries, first of all in Europe but also around the world, to join this important move by Britain.”

According to The Jerusalem Post, the German interior ministry (BMI) has refused to say whether it intends to follow the UK and ban Hezbollah in its entirety. A spokesman from the BMI said: “The BMI does not comment on concrete prohibition considerations in general; this applies regardless of whether there is reason to do so in individual cases.” Since 2013, the EU has only banned Hezbollah’s military wing.

Netanyahu also expressed his appreciation for Britain’s strong stand against antisemitism and congratulated Prime Minister May on the trade agreement that was signed two weeks ago between Britain and Israel. The agreement will protect trade worth £4bn between the two countries after Brexit, according to the Department for International Trade. The agreement protects existing preferential market access for important Israeli products, such as pharmaceuticals. Israeli companies are major suppliers to the NHS, particularly in generic medicine.

UK-Israel bilateral trade totalled $9bn in 2017. In the first half of 2018, total bilateral trade between the UK and Israel grew by 8 per cent compared with the first half of 2017 – from $4 billion in 2017 to $4.33 billion in 2018. A BICOM paper on UK-Israel trade after Brexit concluded that: “There is exceptional potential for growth in bilateral trade and investment, including UK exports to the expanding Israeli market.”

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