MPs to speak included Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat MBE MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, Former Minister Nick Boles MP, CFI Vice-Chairman, Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, CFI Officer Matthew Offord MP, Jack Lopresti MP, and Chair of CAABU, David Jones MP.
The debate was secured by Labour Friends of Israel Chair, Joan Ryan MP, and support for proscription of group was voiced by parliamentarians from all parties.
In her speech, CFI Vice-Chairman, Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, stressed that “the distinction currently made in law between Hezbollah’s political and military wings is entirely artificial. It is a single operation. That has been stated by its leadership on numerous occasions”.
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat MBE MP, made a powerful argument in favour of the full proscription of Hezbollah, asking: “Is it not absolutely possible to work with the government of Lebanon, a government with which we’re extremely friendly […] and yet still call out this terrorist group for what it is?”
Zac Goldsmith MP, who made a number of interventions throughout the debate, intervened in Joan Ryan MP’s speech to ask: “Does she agree that the 1,000 or so people who marched in London under the Hezbollah flag subscribe to the very agenda that she has described?”
The Richmond MP emphasised: “There is no difference between the military and political wings of Hezbollah, as it continually acknowledges. The only recognition of a difference is in UK policy; it does not exist in reality. It is time for that policy to change”.
Former Business Minister, Nick Boles MP, intervened to ask: “I am a friend of Israel, but does she agree that you do not have to be a friend of Israel to believe that Hezbollah, in its entirety, is a terrorist organisation? You can be a friend of Syria, a friend of Lebanon or a friend of the entire Middle East, but you should want Hezbollah, in its entirety, to be banned”.
MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord, stated in his speech that Hezbollah “claims to be the party of God, but it is simply a genocidal, anti-Semitic terror group based in Lebanon that seeks the destruction of Israel and the extermination of all Jews worldwide”.
Referring to the presence of Hezbollah flags on the streets of London last year, Dr Offord emphasised that is not only the Jewish community “who are distressed by Hezbollah’s overt presence in the UK, it also distresses those of us who deplore terrorism and hate all kinds of bigotry and those of us who want this country to be a welcoming and safe place for our many diverse communities”.
Jack Lopresti MP highlighted “the backers of Hezbollah, the Iranians, who provide training and weapons, including rockets”. He underlined: “While the Iranians’ malevolent influence continues throughout the Middle East, they are jeopardising the prospects for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and posing a strategic threat to the very state of Israel”.
Chair of the Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU), David Jones MP, expressed that it was “ludicrous” to suggest that there is a separation between Hezbollah’s military and political wingthat “there is no doubt that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation. Indeed, it is one of the largest, most powerful, most vicious, most dangerous organisations in the world”.
At the end of the debate, Minister for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace MP, said that the “Government are determined to do all we can to minimise the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom and to our interests and friends abroad, and to disrupt those who engage in terrorism”.
Mr Wallace explained that “the UK Government have long held the view that elements of Hezbollah have been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism and, as a result, proscribed Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation in 2001”. He added: “Although the proscription of Hezbollah in its entirety is kept under review, our current position maintains a balance”.
He underlined: “The Government are proud to be a friend of Israel, and we are proud to support working with Israel… Hezbollah is anti-Semitic and wishes the destruction of our ally and friend, the state of Israel”.
Click here to read a full transcript of the debate.