Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked his Australian counterpart for the decision.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Australian government has designated all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, Canberra announced Wednesday.
“The Government has zero tolerance for violence, and there is no cause – religious or ideological – that can justify killing innocent people,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement.
In 2003, Australia had classified only Hezbollah’s External Security Organization as a terrorist group because according to its national security authority, it was a “discrete entity” within the organization’s military wing responsible for attacks outside of the group’s home base of Lebanon. Canberra had not even included in its ban the whole military wing, as the ESO’s activities were “distinct from Hizballah’s formal military actions in the Middle East.”
Now, with the recognition that the division between the political and any part of the military wing was an artificial one, supporting any kind of the Iranian proxy’s activities will be illegal Down Under.
This means that working for or funding any part of the organization will be punishable by up to 25 years in prison, Andrews said. Hezbollah, she added, poses a “real and credible threat” to her country.
“I will continue to take strong action to keep Australians safe from terrorism,” she tweeted.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his “leadership” in making the decision, tweeting, “I welcome Australia’s intent to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization in its entirety. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror organization in Lebanon responsible for countless attacks in Israel & around the world.”
Bennett had pushed Morrison to make the move when he met with him on the sidelines of the climate change conference in Scotland in the beginning of the month.
The “acknowledgment” that the two wings work as one “is essential to combating the enduring threat of terrorism,” said the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
Seventeen countries have designated all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, including the United States, Israel, the UK, Canada, Japan and several European and South American countries. The Arab League recognized Hezbollah as terrorists in 2016 as well. However, the EU as a whole has not done so.
The Australian government’s intelligence and security committee has also recommended putting all of Hamas on its list of terror groups, rather than only its Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Great Britain just made this designation last week for the other Iranian-backed organization on Israel’s borders, which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron hand.