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Arab Israeli parties slam Gulf states for Hezbollah terror listing

Ayman Odeh’s Hadash faction and nationalist Balad say ostracizing of Lebanese group serves Israeli interests

Members of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah hold their flags during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter, who was killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, March 1, 2016. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)
Members of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah hold their flags during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter, who was killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, March 1, 2016. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Two Arab Israeli political parties on Monday condemned Gulf Arab states for designating the Lebanese group Hezbollah a terror organization, arguing that the move serves Israel.

Hezbollah is openly committed to destroying Israel, and has an estimated 100,000-plus rockets and missiles aimed at the Jewish state.

Last Wednesday the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council declared Hezbollah, which has lawmakers in the Lebanese parliament, a terror group in the latest step against the organization, as ties between its Shiite backer Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia deteriorate amid multiple regional Sunni-Shiite conflicts. Gulf monarchies had already sanctioned Hezbollah in 2013 in reprisal for its armed intervention in Syria in support of embattled strongman Bashar Assad.

Hadash, which is helmed by Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh, denounced the blacklisting of the Lebanon-based organization on Monday.

The party posted on its Arabic-language website a fierce condemnation of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States for their decision to outlaw Hezbollah, which they said came “in the service of occupation and the continued occupation of Arab land.”

File: Joint (Arab) List MKs Hanin Zoabi (center), Jamal Zahalka (right) and Basel Ghattas (center left, behind Zoabi) speak with the press in Jerusalem on February 17, 2015 (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)
File: Joint (Arab) List MKs Hanin Zoabi (center), Jamal Zahalka (right) and Basel Ghattas (center left, behind Zoabi) speak with the press in Jerusalem on February 17, 2015 (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Balad — another of the four parties constituting the Joint List — followed Hadash’s lead, posting a condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council on its website on Monday afternoon.

“Even if there is criticism of its activities, there is no justification to condemn the organization,” Balad said of Hezbollah.

Balad members recently made headlines for visiting the families of Palestinian terrorists. The politicians maintained they were simply helping the families retrieve the attackers’ bodies from Israel for burial, but a video of the three MKs ostensibly observing a moment of silence sparked widespread Israeli outrage, and prompted the coalition to draft a controversial bill to allow lawmakers to suspend their colleagues.

Former MK Azmi Bishara led Balad until he fled Israel in 2007 amid suspicions that he provided information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Bishara has denied the allegations, and says he will not return to Israel as he does not believe he will receive a fair trial. Bishara currently resides in Doha, Qatar.

Odeh has also recently courted controversy, accusing Israel on February 29 of murdering former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

AFP contributed to this report.

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