German parliament urges government to ban Hezbollah


(JTA) — Germany’s parliament voted on Thursday to urge the government to ban Hezbollah from operating on the country’s soil and to push other European countries to likewise prohibit the group.

Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition led the Bundestag push on a measure that is likely to be enacted in the coming months, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Hezbollah denies Israel’s right to exist, it threatens with violence and terror, and it continues to massively expand its missile arsenal,” the newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who supports the measure, telling journalists.

Earlier this year, several American lawmakers called on Merkel to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group, writing that “taking the step to designate the political wing of Hezbollah will have a significant impact on Hezbollah’s activity in Europe and around the globe.”

A number of governments, including in Israel, the United States, Britain and some Sunni Arab states, see no distinction between Hezbollah’s civilian and military wings and have asked other Western countries to adopt the same policy.

Britain banned the group’s political wing in April, more than a decade after prohibiting its armed wing in 2008.

Hezbollah is both a military organization with considerable numbers of weapons and troops at its disposal and a political party that is an integral part of Lebanese politics.

Even as members of Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union were pushing to ban Hezbollah, the party also was working to expose and purge extremists from its own ranks after it was reported this week that it had failed to take action against a suspected neo-Nazi member.

On Thursday, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon said that Education Minister Hassan Diab, who has ties to Hezbollah, will become the country’s next prime minister.

Recommended from JTA