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German parliament rejects ban on Hezbollah

German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions during a session at the German Parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany on March 21, 2019. ( Abdülhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency )

The German Bundestag (parliament) yesterday rejected a bill seeking to extend limits on the operations of Hezbollah in Germany.

The anti-Hezbollah bill was put forward by the far right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) but voted down by five others – including the Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Left, the Greens, Free Democrats and Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The bill sought to limit the political wing's ability to raise funds through charity operations, according to a report from RT.  

Hezbollah's military wing was outlawed by Germany in 2013. 

A number of MPs spoke out against the anti-Hezbollah bill, including the Left Party that has criticised Israel's poor human rights record and advocated various types of resistance against the Jewish state in the past.

Other groups thought it more appropriate to deal with the classification of Hezbollah through the EU.

"If we really want to outlaw the group, then a decision in that regard should be taken at the European level," said CDU's Roderich Kiesewetter.

READ: US mediation between Lebanon and Israel revolves around Israel's best interests 

AfD controls one-eighth of Germany's Bundestag. In 2016, it called for the ban of burqas and mosque minarets with its manifesto adding that "Islam is not a part of Germany."

"Hezbollah must be banned in Germany," said AfD deputy Beatrix von Storch before the voting of the bill yesterday. She called the group a "terrorist organisation" which is set on the "destruction of Israel."

Though Germany maintains that Hezbollah's political and military wings are separate, a number of other countries – including the US, Canada and the Netherlands – have banned the group in its entirety.

In February this year, the UK became only the second EU country to follow suit.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time that the UK was no longer able to distinguish between the political and military factions of Hezbollah.

"The government is sending a clear signal that its destabilising activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK's national security," he added.

Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist political party, modelling itself on the revolutionary ideals of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It holds significant political power in the Lebanese parliament with its members holding 12 seats of 128.

Owing to the Lebanese religiously representative government, it has also taken control of some of the country's institutions, including the Ministry of Health.

Its military wing stands accused by the US and the EU of destabilising the region through its activities, including the support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad during the Syrian conflict.

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