Anglo-Jewish leaders have welcomed Britain’s formal request to the European Union to outlaw Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation.
The government’s move increases the likelihood of the EU taking action against the Iranian-backed group and follows months of pressure from the Jewish community.
Prime Minister David Cameron requested that British Jews “make a noise” and help him persuade the EU to ban Hizbollah following a meeting with community leaders in January.
Board of Deputies vice-president Alex Brummer said Britain had now taken “a really important step” that would provide a “serious boost” to those seeking Hizbollah’s proscription.
Jeremy Newmark, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive, said Mr Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague must be “congratulated for taking a lead in pressing the EU to deliver this long-overdue designation as part of the fight against terror”.
The EU currently classifies Hizbollah as a social welfare organisation. To proscribe the organisation requires consensus among all 27 EU members. The move would freeze the group’s accounts and funding, hitting its European operations and terrorist activities. A special EU working group is due to meet next month, with a ban on the organisation possibly being introduced by the end of June.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We firmly believe that an appropriate EU response would be to designate Hizbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.”