Labour has called on the government to provide “clear evidence” that the political wing of Hezbollah should be proscribed.
Commenting on Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group, the party raised concerns that such a move could “make it difficult to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon”.
Labour also suggested that Javid’s position on the ban may have been determined by his “leadership ambitions”, and not arrived at “in an objective and impartial way”.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Home Office has previously ruled that there was not sufficient evidence that the political wing of Hezbollah fell foul of proscription criteria, a position confirmed by ministers in the House of Commons last year. Ministers have not yet provided any clear evidence to suggest this has changed.
“It has also rightly been the view of the Foreign Office for many years that proscribing the political wing of Hezbollah, which is part of the democratically elected Lebanese government, would make it difficult to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, or to work with the government on humanitarian issues, including those facing Syrian refugees, in parts of the country controlled by Hezbollah.
“Decisions on the proscription of organisations as terror groups are supposed to be made on the advice of civil servants based on clear evidence that those organisations fall foul of the proscription criteria set out in legislation. The Home Secretary must therefore now demonstrate that this decision was taken in an objective and impartial way, and driven by clear and new evidence, not by his leadership ambitions.
“We support the government in its decision to proscribe the groups Jamaat Nusrat al Islam Wall Muslimin and Ansaroul Islam.”
A number of Labour MPs have already made clear that they will be voting for the ban tonight, while Wes Streeting claimed earlier that “Labour will be supporting the ban”.
“It just takes a little while to list the many, many, many reasons why the ban is justified,” Streeting tweeted this morning, before the party spokesperson’s comments.
“I’m expecting the PLP briefing whipping for the ban imminently and every Labour MP will instinctively support it anyway. Every single one.”