Members of Parliament yesterday supported a non-binding resolution in the House of Commons to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation under UK terrorism legislation.
There was widespread support for the move to proscribe the political wing of Hezbollah. Currently, only the military wing is defined as a terrorist organisation in UK law. The full text of the resolution said: “This House believes that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation driven by an antisemitic ideology that seeks the destruction of Israel; notes that Hezbollah declares itself to be one organisation without distinguishable political or military wings; is concerned that the military wing of that organisation is proscribed, but its political wing is not; and calls on the Government to include Hezbollah in its entirety on the list of proscribed organisations.”
During the debate, Labour MP Joan Ryan, who proposed the motion, said: “Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, driven by antisemitic ideology, which seeks the destruction of Israel. It has wreaked death and destruction throughout the middle east, aiding and abetting the Assad regime’s butchery in Syria and helping to drive Iran’s expansionism throughout the region. It makes no distinction between its political and military wings, and nor should the British Government.”
Ahead of the debate, the Labour Party sent a briefing note to Labour MPs urging them to oppose the motion, claiming it would hinder peace talks in the Middle East. The briefing made no mention of Hezbollah’s involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria or its long history of carrying out terrorist attacks. The briefing said: “There is a balance between making absolutely clear our abhorrence of using violence to achieve political ends and at the same time encouraging organisations down an effective democratic path.”
It added that “full proscription could be a move against dialogue and meaningful peace negotiations in the Middle East” and “could prevent the UK or other governments from engaging with the Lebanese government and could lead to a breakdown of diplomatic relations”.
Other European countries such as the Netherlands, as well as the US, ban Hezbollah in its entirety whilst maintaining diplomatic relations with the Lebanese government.
During the debate, Labour MP Ian Austin, supporting the motion, said: “[Hezbollah] is not interested in the compromises that all sides will need to make to bring about a two-state solution. Its sole interest is the destruction of Israel… The idea Hezbollah is a partner for peace is misguided.”