The Arab Parliament on Sunday designated the Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, weeks after two other major pan-Arab bodies adopted resolutions declaring the same.
Parliament Speaker Ahmed al-Jarwan condemned Hezbollah for “undermining the security of many countries in the region,” given its deep involvement in the Syrian civil war, but said the 22-member, pan-Arab body created by the Arab League in 2001, hoped the group would continue fighting Israel.
“We hope Hezbollah points its weapons at Israel,” al-Jarwan is quoted as saying by Lebanon’s Naharnet news website.
Created by Iran in the 1980s, Hezbollah is openly committed to the destruction of Israel, and has an estimated 100,000-plus rockets and missiles aimed at the Jewish state. In the summer of 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody 34-day war in which thousands of rockets rained down on cities across northern Israel. The war was sparked by a Hezbollah cross-border raid and the abductions of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Their remains were recovered as part of a prisoner exchange in 2008.
Almost a decade on, a new round of violence has yet to flare, as some have predicted, but several notable skirmishes along the border have occurred, particularly since Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in the war in neighboring Syria which began in March 2011.
Last month, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to bomb the Haifa ammonia storage facility, bragging that a missile strike there would have an impact similar to a nuclear attack.
The Arab Parliament’s Sunday declaration also condemned the group’s “direct Iranian interference and the indirect Hezbollah interference in the affairs of the Arab countries.”
In March, both the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council declared Hezbollah a terrorist group.
The blacklisting of the Lebanon-based group comes amid the continued deterioration of relations between Hezbollah’s Shiite backer Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia. Gulf monarchies had already sanctioned Hezbollah in 2013 in reprisal for its armed intervention in Syria in support of embattled President Bashar Assad.
In January, Bahrain said it had dismantled a “terror” cell allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.
That same month, a lower court in Kuwait sentenced 22 people, all but one of them Kuwaiti Shiites, who were charged with spying for Iran and plotting Hezbollah-linked attacks in the Gulf country.
Hezbollah has been on the the US’s list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997. Last year, a US intelligence report removed the group from its list of terror threats to the United States.
AFP contributed to this report.