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German Parliament Calls for Full Ban of Hezbollah Activities

German Parliament Calls for Full Ban of Hezbollah Activities

Thursday, 19 December, 2019 - 11:15
Lebanon’s Hezbollah members carry Hezbollah flags during the funeral of a fellow fighter in al-Ghaziyeh village, southern Lebanon May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Germany's parliament passed a resolution Thursday calling for a national ban on the activities of Hezbollah and for the Lebanese group to be put on the European Union's terrorist list.

Mathias Middelberg, the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in parliament, said the joint resolution was agreed upon with the junior coalition Social Democrats, as well as the opposition Free Democrats.

“We call on the government to ban all activities for Hezbollah in Germany,” he said in a statement earlier.

At the moment, the EU lists Iran-backed Hezbollah's military wing as a banned terrorist group, but not its political wing, which has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years.

“The separation between a political and a military arm should be abandoned, and Hezbollah as a whole should be placed on the EU terrorist list,” Middelberg said. “This could freeze Hezbollah's funds and assets in Europe more extensively than before.”

The parliamentary resolution in Germany was approved with a majority show of hands by members of Merkel's bloc, the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats. Other parties represented in the German legislature all abstained.

The Left Party said it could not vote for the resolution because adding Hezbollah to the EU terrorist list could complicate relations with Lebanon. Members of the Greens said they agreed with almost all of the resolution but objected to a point that they said could lead to “military intervention” in the Mideast.

Johann Wadephul, a lawmaker with Merkel's Christian Democrats, offered assurance that the resolution's call for measures to reduce the influence of Hezbollah in the region, particularly in Syria, did not foresee military action.

“But we are all called upon to isolate Hezbollah internationally,” Wadephul told fellow lawmakers. “They threaten Israel, they threaten the peace process in the Mideast and therefore we must confront Hezbollah.”

It was not immediately clear whether the resolution would prompt the government to pursue the ban of Hezbollah's activities. But with the governing parties and most of the opposition on board, such action seemed likely.

Several lawmakers noted that a ban would allow authorities to prevent Hezbollah supporters from staging an annual anti-Israel march in Berlin.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged that with Hezbollah's ties to Lebanese government “the political reality in Lebanon is complex," but he said “this should not prevent us from exhausting the legal possibilities in Germany to tackle Hezbollah's criminal and terrorist activities.”

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