NEW YORK (JTA) — The British government said it will re-establish contact with Hezbollah.
Britain had halted all contact with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that the United States and Israel consider a terrorist group, four years ago. On Thursday, the British government announced it would resume contacts with Hezbollah’s political wing. The announcement came on the heels of a visit by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Washington, and British officials said the move was discussed in advance with the Obama administration.
A statement from the British Foreign Ministry said the government had “reconsidered our position on no contact with Hezbollah in light of more positive recent political developments in Lebanon" — notably, the participation of Hezbollah in the formation of a national unity government in Lebanon.
Hezbollah fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, firing more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli territory. The group long described its campaign against Israel as resisting occupation, but Hezbollah did not halt its attacks against the Jewish state after Israel ended its 18-year occupation of South Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah’s prime backer is been Iran, which sends the group arms via Syria and trains Hezbollah fighters at camps in Iran.