Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah carry pictures of Hezbollah’s late military leader Imad Moughniyah as Nasrallah appears on a screen to speak at an event to commemorate the deaths of six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general killed by an Israeli air strike in Syri. (photo credit: REUTERS/KHALIL HASSAN)
Germany’s Bundestag rejected a bill on Thursday to outlaw the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in the federal republic.
An array of parties comprising the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Left, the Greens and Free Democrats opposed an anti-Hezbollah bill authored by the far-right party Alternative for Germany party.
The mainstream German parties’ rejection of the motion to ban Hezbollah comes a week after an urgent appeal from the Central Council of Jews in Germany to outlaw Hezbollah amid rising Jew-hatred in the federal republic. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requested last Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday that a German intelligence report from the state of Lower Saxony asserts the number of Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany has climbed from 950 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2018.
“For a long time we have been calling for a ban on the antisemitic terrorist organization #Hezbollah,” the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office tweeted on Thursday. “It is regrettable that this topic is now being taken up by the right-wing populists. We hope that all democratic parties will finally seek this prohibition. #Bundestag.”
Kathrin Vogler of the Left Party – widely considered an anti-Israel party – spoke against the anti-Hezbollah bill during the debate. The Left party’s MP Christine Buchholz has defended the “legitimate resistance” of Hezbollah against the Jewish state. Buchholz has also showed support for the EU and US designated terrorist entity Hamas.
The Green Party’s Omid Nouripour, who played a role in a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions initiative against Israel in 2013, voiced his opposition to the anti-Hezbollah resolution.
A leading Green Party MP Jürgen Trittin has shown sympathy for Hezbollah, declaring: “We must speak with Hezbollah.”
The Christian Democratic Union’s Christian de Vries voiced his opposition to the anti-Hezbollah bill, saying there should be an “EU solution” for a ban of Hezbollah.
The German government, however, can unilaterally designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, but Merkel has vehemently opposed a full ban of Hezbollah. The German government and the EU have merely outlawed Hezbollah’s so-called military wing.
Hezbollah’s “political wing” operates in Germany by raising funds, recruiting new members and spreading antisemitic and jihadi ideologies.
Benjamin Strasser rejected the anti-Hezbollah bill on behalf of the Free Democrats. His Free Democratic colleague Frank Müller-Rosentritt tweeted on Saturday in response to the pro-Iranian regime, pro-Hezbollah al-Quds Day march: “Thousands demonstrate for the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem and the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah and Nasrallah are celebrated. Because Germany does not classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, it may continue to collect donations and propaganda. That must have an end.”
The United Kingdom outlawed all of Hezbollah in February. The US, Canada, the Arab League, Israel and the Netherlands have classified all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The US Congress has called on Europe over the years to designate all of Hezbollah a terrorist entity.
The 192-page intelligence report authored by the intelligence agents from Lower Saxony’s state security service noted 150 Hezbollah operatives are situated there. The report covering 2018 was released on May 22.
“Hezbollah denies the right of existence of the State of Israel and fights it with terrorist means,” the intelligence report stated. “In Germany, the followers of Hezbollah maintain organizational and ideological and cohesion in local mosques associations that are financed primarily by donations. Hezbollah is against the idea of international understanding and the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The ‘party’ of Hezbollah was founded under the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran, representing the most radical party of the Lebanese Shi’ite community.”