Diplomacy

Netanyahu Praises May over UK Hezbollah Ban

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Britain on Monday for designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety and thanked his British counterpart Theresa May for her country’s leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism, JNS reported.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister told May in a phone call that, with its ban of Hezbollah, Britain had set an important example for other nations to follow. Netanyahu also expressed gratitude for Britain’s “strong stand against anti-Semitism,” in addition to applauding a free-trade pact made between the two nations.

The British Home office announced last week that it would ban all of Hezbollah, adding the so-called “political wing” of the Iranian-sponsored group to its list of proscribed terrorist organizations. Being a member of or inviting support for Hezbollah is now a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

“Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize 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,” British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement on February 25.

“We are staunch supporters of a stable and prosperous Lebanon. We cannot, however, be complacent when it comes to terrorism. it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilising activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security,” added British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hezbollah is already deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the Arab League.

Two weeks ago, Israel and Britain finalized a post-Brexit trade deal as the country prepares to leave the European Union. Britain is Israel’s largest European trade partner and third-largest overall. The agreement simplifies trade and allows businesses to continue trading freely without any additional tariffs or barriers. It replicates the existing EU-Israel trading relationship, as reflected by the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Trade between the two countries passed the $10 billion mark for the first time last year. The trade volume between the two countries surged by 75 percent in the first half of 2018. Israeli exports totaled $3.45 billion between January and June 2018, up from $1.97 billion in the first half of 2017, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported last September.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]