The petition of residents of the Hendon constituency,
Declares that demonstrations against the legitimate and democratic state of Israel where offensive and anti-Semitic language is used are not acceptable and that they, the petitioners, condemn such actions; further, that they, the petitioners, note that the police will not take any legal action against perpetrators under the current law; and further, that they, the petitioners, demonstrate their commitment to democracy, tolerance and freedom of speech be seeking the elimination of hatred.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to proscribe the political as well as military arm of the Hezbollah organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Dr Matthew Offord, Official Report, 17 January 2018; Vol. 634, c. 1022.]
Observations from the Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace):
Hezbollah’s external security organisation (also known as the Military Wing) was proscribed by the UK Government in March 2001 and in 2008 the proscription was extended to Hezbollah military apparatus including the Jihad Council. While the UK proscribes Hezbollah’s military wing, we do not proscribe the group in its entirety.
Hezbollah’s military wing is also designated in the UK under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010. Therefore, funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by its military wing in the UK can be frozen. In July 2012 the EU also designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation under the EU asset freeze regime.
The current proscription and asset freeze already sends a clear message that we condemn Hezbollah’s violence and support for terrorism. Groups are not free to spread hatred, fund terrorist activity or incite violence as they please, irrespective of whether they are included on the list of proscribed organisations or not.
Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society and it is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and to demonstrate their views, however uncomfortable these may be to the majority of us, provided that they do so lawfully. There is, of course, a balance to be struck. Protestors’ rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation or serious disruption to the community. Rights to peaceful protest do not extend to violent or threatening behaviour and the police have powers to deal with any such acts. The management of protests is of course a matter for the police. Similarly, the investigation and prosecution of all criminal offences is a matter for the police, together with the Crown Prosecution Service.
The UK Government condemn any language or act which attempts to delegitimise the State of Israel, and also hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion, which has absolutely no place in our society. Violence against anyone in this country is a crime and will be treated seriously.
The Government acknowledge the petitioners’ request to extend the proscription of Hezbollah to cover the group’s political wing, however, while the list of proscribed groups is kept under review, the Government do not routinely comment on whether an organisation is or is not under consideration for proscription.