Switzerland considers banning Hezbollah

Switzerland is considering banning the Iranian-backed Shia group, Hezbollah, after the country’s federal council agreed last week to review a report investigating the group’s activities within its borders.

The application was submitted by Marianne Binder, a politician in the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland and is titled, “Report on the activities of the Shi’ite Islamist Hezbollah in Switzerland”.

The application, according to a report by the Jerusalem Post, could lead to a complete ban on Hezbollah in Switzerland with the organisation’s access to bank accounts and assets seized and frozen.

Calling for the ban, Binder’s application argues that, “in view of the neutrality of Switzerland, however, the activities of Hezbollah cannot be legitimised, and a report is also advisable for reasons of security policy.”

The initiative, which was first submitted in June, was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as citing Germany’s decision to ban Hezbollah’s military and political arms in late April as a catalyst for Switzerland to consider a similar move.

“On April 30, 2020, Germany banned all activities of the Shi’ite Islamist Hezbollah,” the document was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying. Previously, Germany had outlawed Hezbollah’s military arm, only giving the political wing a terrorist designation in April.

“Germany justified the decision with the fact that Hezbollah is calling for armed struggle and rejecting Israel’s right to exist,” the document added.

The Swiss initiative also cited the European Union’s ban on Hezbollah’s military arm as a catalyst but added that “it is not known which activities Hezbollah is developing in Switzerland”.

Other countries in Europe, including the UK, Lithuania and the Netherlands have already banned Hezbollah activities within their borders.

The UK officially banned the Iranian-backed Shia group’s political arm last year, after previously outlawing Hezbollah’s military wing, and made membership of the organisation as well as inviting support a crime.

The EU, meanwhile, has faced increasing pressure to ban Hezbollah in its entirety with member states, such as Germany, choosing to make the designation independently.

As recently as July, more than 200 members of the European parliament signed a declaration labelling Hezbollah “the Iranian regime’s most deadly proxy”, terming the distinction between the organisation’s military and political arms “false” and calling on the EU to ban the entire group.

Hezbollah, which was established in 1982, is a major political party in Lebanon with strongholds of support in the southern and eastern regions of the Mediterranean state.

The Shia group, which receives much of its backing from Iran, is also a major supporter of President Bashar Al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.

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