update deskMiddle East

Arab League rescinds Hezbollah terrorist classification

"Our efforts do not include labeling entities as terrorist organizations," the body's deputy chief told Egyptian media.

Hezbollah terrorists salute at a funeral in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh, Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images.
Hezbollah terrorists salute at a funeral in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh, Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images.

The Arab League will no longer refer to Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist group, the body’s deputy chief told Egyptian media over the weekend.

“The Arab League does not maintain official terrorist lists, and our efforts do not include labeling entities as terrorist organizations,” Hossam Zaki said during an interview with Cairo’s Al Qahera TV.

Zaki said the governments that make up the 22-member bloc had agreed to reverse a March 2016 decision to blacklist Hezbollah, enabling the renewal of contacts with the Lebanon-based terrorist organization.

The 2016 resolution, which was opposed by Lebanon and Iraq but hailed by the government in Jerusalem, called on Hezbollah to cease fostering extremism and sectarianism, stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and refrain from supporting regional terrorism.

On Friday, Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese daily close to the Iranian proxy, reported that Zaki had visited Beirut and met with officials there, including Hezbollah lawmaker Muhammad Raad, in what was described as the group’s first tête-à-tête with an Arab League official in over a decade.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has attacked Israel nearly every day since Oct. 8, firing thousands of rockets, anti-tank missiles and suicide drones at Israeli towns, killing more than 20 people and causing widespread damage. Tens of thousands of Israeli civilians remain internally displaced due to the ongoing violence.

During meetings in Washington last week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stressed that while Jerusalem prefers a diplomatic solution, it will take whatever action is required to restore security to northern Israel.

“We do not want war, but we are preparing for every scenario,” Gallant stated following the meetings. Israel has emphasized that any political solution “will not be an agreement on paper” but must include “the physical removal of Hezbollah from the border, and we will have to enforce it.”

In a video published last week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed to fight the Jewish state “without restraints, without rules, without limits” should war be “imposed” on Lebanon. He has also threatened that an “invasion” of the Israeli Galilee “remains on the table.”

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