A group of senior MEPs have written to Priti Patel urging the UK to “play a vital role” in demanding that all EU member states recognise Hizbollah in its entirety as a terror organisation.
In the letter seen by The Daily Telegraph, both serving and former MEPs request that despite Brexit, the UK will remain “a close ally and partner” to the European Union and that as such “the UK should persuade the EU to no longer make the false distinction between Hizbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political’ wings.”
The UK initially proscribed parts of the Lebanese organisation in 2001. However last year, under Sajid Javid’s tenure, the Iran-backed militant group was officially banned as a terrorist organization after the former home secretary branded it a threat to the public’s safety and security.
Speaking at the time Mr Javid said: “Hizbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilase 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.”
The letter, whose signatories include former UK MEPs Charles Tannock,David Campbell Bannerman and Nirj Deva, add that the “EU’s fear of undermining the fragile political stability in Lebanon by listing Hizbollah is unwarranted and now contrary to the common grain of policy in the West”.
They added that the “UK and other allies, who have blacklisted Hizbollah in its entirety, continue to maintain strong relations with the Lebanese institutions”.
The Netherlands and Germany are the only EU Member States to have listed Hezbollah in its entirety.
In 2018, the former head of MI5, Sir Andrew Parker, urged European leaders not to put at risk their “shared strength” by weakening security and intelligence sharing after Brexit, as he stressed the danger posed by both hostile states and the “intense and unrelenting international terrorist threat” from jihadists.
The letter continues: “It is in our strategic interest to cooperate and keep our continent and fellow citizens safe from Hizbollah and Iran’s threat to our safety and peace.
“We call on the UK to play a vital role in persuading the EU and its Member States to place the whole of Hezbollah on the EU’s terror list and we welcome your efforts to that avail.”
A Government spokesman said that it had extended the proscription of Hizbollah “as a terrorist organisation last year, and earlier this year extended our domestic asset freeze, given that we were no longer able to distinguish between the military and political wings of the organisation”.
“We will work with any like-minded country, including EU member states, to stamp out terrorism around the world,” he said.