Lebanon: British decision on Hezbollah won't impact relations

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister says Britain’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah's political arm will not impact bilateral relations.

Elad Benari,

Gebran Bassil
Gebran Bassil
Reuters

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, responded on Monday to Britain’s decision to blacklist the political arm of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, saying senior British officials had agreed the issue should not "impact on bilateral relationships between Lebanon and Britain."

Bassil, whose Free Patriotic Movement party is allied with Hezbollah in government, added the move "will not have direct negative consequences on Lebanon because we are already used to this situation with other countries," according the AFP news agency.

In separate comments reported by the National News Agency and quoted by Reuters, he also defended the group.

“If the whole world stood up and said the resistance is terrorism, this does not make it terrorism as far as the Lebanese are concerned,” said Bassil.

The British government formally announced earlier on Monday that it intends to ban the political wing of the Hezbollah terror organization.

In a statement, the government said it would bring a proposal before Parliament to ban Hezbollah and two other radical Islamic organizations as terrorist groups.

The British move follows warnings by MPs that the UK had drawn a false distinction by proscribing Hezbollah’s military wing but not its political side.

This loophole in British law has allowed participants in the annual Al-Quds Day to march through central London to wave the Hezbollah flag, featuring an assault rifle.

In 2013, the European Union similarly blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while failing to blacklist the group’s political arm.

Members of Congress in the United States have urged the EU to designate all branches of Hezbollah as a terror group, after several Hezbollah parliamentarians in Lebanon were caught on camera calling for terror against Israelis.




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