Paraguay on Monday said it had officially recognized the military wings of Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as terrorist organizations drawing praise from Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister.
President Mario Abdo Benitez made the declaration in an official document, signed on August 9, saying it was aimed at supporting the fight against international terrorism. He also recognized the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as global terror organizations.
Both Iran-affiliated movements, who have been waging a decades-long war against Israel and have attacked its cities with tens of thousands of rockets, will now be blacklisted in the Latin American country.
Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said the decision was in line with work carried out by the United Nations and international treaties protecting human rights.
El Presidente de la República @MaritoAbdo, resolvió a través del Decreto Nº 2.307 reconocer la designación como organización terrorista global a ISIS y Al Qaeda y como organización terrorista internacional a Hamás y Hezbollah. Lo anunció el ministro de @minteriorpy pic.twitter.com/9Up3rw8VFk
— Presidencia Paraguay (@PresidenciaPy) August 19, 2019
Hezbollah runs much of its financial operations in South America. Villamayor said Paraguay would now be obliged to take action against the money flow to terror groups through local banks, Paraguayan media reported.
“Now the task has to be coordinated and open to all in the terms of this decree,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement in a brief statement, saying Israel was making efforts to have other countries also take that step.
Israel has pushed for the international community to blacklist Hezbollah and Hamas. While many countries outlaw the movements’ armed wings, most have balked at also blacklisting their politburos.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz also hailed the move as an “important decision,” saying in a tweet that it “contributes to the global battle against these Iranian proxies.”
This decision contributes to the global battle against these Iranian proxies.
We will continue working to get more countries to designate these orgs as terrorist orgs.
— ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) August 19, 2019
Despite the warm words, Israel and Asuncion remain on shaky terms, since Paraguay moved its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in September 2018, just weeks after it had become just the third country to move its embassy to the Israeli capital.
Israel reacted furiously to the move, and shuttered its own mission in Asuncion.
Most countries have maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv so as to not prejudge the outcome of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel’s embassy in Asuncion was closed from 2003 to 2016 over budgetary constraints.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.