Israel welcomed the Australian government’s decision Wednesday to list the whole of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization, calling upon other countries to follow suit.
Announcing the move Wednesday, Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews noted that the country has listed Hezbollah’s “external security organization” as a terrorist entity since 2003.
“The group continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provides support to terrorist organizations such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” Andrews said.
“The violence and the views of these extremist groups are a stain on Australia’s rich cultural fabric,” she said. “There is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies.”
Membership in all of Hezbollah, including its political wing, will now be barred, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed the move, thanking Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his leadership.
“Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror organization in Lebanon responsible for countless attacks in Israel and around the world,” Bennett remarked.
He noted the decision came less than a week after the United Kingdom said it would ban the entirety of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, including its political wing, bringing UK policy in line with Israeli and US policy.
“The right trend in which, along with us, our allies are going — is very gratifying,” Bennett added Wednesday. “We will continue to act in every possible way against terrorist organizations in Israel and around the world.”
“Australia’s decision joins similar decisions by 17 other nations in the last two years who understand there are no separate wings in a terrorist organization,” said Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “This is also true of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. It is one body and distinctions between its arms are artificial.”
Lapid urged “additional countries and the European Union to join this pressure on Hezbollah, to outlaw its activities, and to recognize the entirety of the organization as a terrorist organization.”
Andrews also announced a ban on the neo-Nazi group The Base, a white supremacist, antisemitic militant organization formed in the US in 2018. She noted the group is known to have organized “paramilitary training camps overseas,” and that it was thought to be planning terrorist attacks.
Commenting on Wednesday’s decision, the Zionist Federation of Australia’s Director of Public Affairs Bren Carlill said: “This important step aligns Australia’s position with its most important allies, and will help Australia assist its international partners in efforts to stop Hezbollah’s international terrorist and criminal activities.”
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said that the move would “deliver a hammer blow to Hezbollah’s pretensions to credibility and legitimacy.”
Hezbollah condemned Australia’s decision as a “servile submission to American and Zionist dictates,” according to a statement cited by the movement’s al-Manar TV.