BERLIN, Dec 19 (Reuters) – The German parliament on Thursday approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to ban all activities by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group on German soil, citing its “terrorist activities” especially in Syria.
The motion was backed by Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners and the opposition Free Democrats. It is not binding but will increase pressure on the government to act.
The motion said Germany should ditch its current policy of distinguishing between Hezbollah’s political arm and military units, which have fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria.
“The lower house calls on the government to ban Hezbollah and not tolerate any activity by its representatives in Germany,” the motion said.
The motion praised government efforts to take action against Hezbollah supporters suspected of raising funds for the Lebanese Shiite group in Germany, mainly by giving prosecutors more investigative powers. But it said those measures were not enough.
The United States and Israel have been urging Germany to ban Hezbollah altogether, dismissing claims that its political and military wing are separate entities.
Britain introduced legislation in February that classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, citing its military activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The European Union considers only Hezbollah’s military arm as a terrorist organisation and not its political arm.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Catherine Evans)