The British Labour Party opposed on Tuesday plans by the government to ban the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah in its entirety, charging that Home Secretary Sajid Javid has failed to produce “any clear evidence” why the group should be outlawed, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
Instead, a Labour spokesperson asserted that Hezbollah is “part of the democratically elected Lebanese government” and charged the decision was motivated by Javid’s “leadership ambitions.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the British Labour Party, infamously once referred to Hezbollah as his “friends” and marched with Hezbollah sympathizers on Al Quds Day in London.
In a move that infuriated Labour lawmakers, Corbyn imposed only a one-line whip on the vote that takes place in parliament Tuesday night, meaning that lawmakers – including Corbyn – are under no obligation to vote on the order proscribing Hezbollah in its entirety.
Despite Labour’s efforts, the bid to ban Hezbollah is expected to pass easily tonight in the House of Commons.
Labour’s statement comes after Javid announced on Monday that the whole of Hezbollah is to become a banned terrorist group in Britain. Parts of the Lebanese-based organization have been proscribed since 2001, with its military wing banned since 2008. The changes are expected to take effect on Friday.
In its explanation of the decision, the Home Office said it can no longer distinguish between the group’s military and political wings. It said Hezbollah “continues to amass weapons in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions, putting the security of the region at risk.”
The statement added that Hezbollah’s seven-year involvement in the ongoing Syrian war “continues to prolong the conflict and the regime’s brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.”
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Britain’s decision. Pompeo said on Twitter it showed that “international unity to confront Iran’s regime continues to grow.
“This Iran-sponsored terrorist group has American blood on its hands & continues to plot & carry out attacks in the Mideast, Europe & around the world,” the secretary added.
Israel’s foreign minister also commented on the move and called for the United Nations to follow suit. “I would like to praise the British government on the decision to recognise the entire Hezbollah organisation as a terrorist organisation,” Israel Katz wrote on Twitter.
The minister said he would discuss the development in an “upcoming meeting with the UN secretary-general in New York next week.”
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