VIDEO: House Unanimously Passes Rep. Deutch's Hezbollah Bill
Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution (H.Res. 359) introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, urging the European Union (EU) to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organizations.
Currently, the EU only includes Hezbollah's military wing - and not its political wing - on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations. The United States makes no distinction between its branches and includes Hezbollah in its entirety on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
"More can be done to counter the Iranian proxy Hezbollah," said Congressman Deutch. "And that begins with calling them what they are – a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel and undermining the values and interests of the United States and – our EU friends must acknowledge, as well – the values and interests of Europe. The world knows that Hezbollah is a terrorist group. It’s time for the European Union to end its false distinction and join us in designating all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization."
The bipartisan bill was introduced with Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Brad Schneider (D-IL).
Click the image to watch Congressman Deutch's floor remarks. A transcript of his remarks is below.
I would first like to thank Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for their leadership in the Committee and for bringing this resolution forward. I'd like to thank my friend from Florida, Congressman Bilirakis, for working with me on this resolution. And my thanks as well to Chairman Ros-Lehtinen for her leadership on the Subcommittee and ensuring that we had the opportunity to move forward together.
Mister Speaker, in 2013, almost exactly one year after a Hezbollah suicide bomber blew up a bus in Bulgaria killing mostly Israeli tourists, the European Union took action to finally designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
However, they only designated what they called Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terror group, and not its “political wing.”
The United States has been clear that this was false distinction then, and it remains a false distinction today.
Hezbollah is one unified terrorist organization, and it's led by the terrorist Hassan Nasrallah.
It is one unified Hezbollah that is responsible for the horrific acts of terror against Europeans, Americans, Israelis, and others across the Middle East and around the globe.
It is one unified Hezbollah that has helped prop up the Assad regime, and that is complicit in the death of half a million Syrians and the dissolving of a once thriving nation.
So this one unified Hezbollah should be designated as a terrorist organization, so we can increase international cooperation to isolate and dismantle this group.
This morning, the Middle East Subcommittee held a hearing on next steps for our Iran policy. There, I noted that two days ago, we marked a solemn anniversary, because 34 years ago on October 23rd two Hezbollah suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Marine Barracks in Beirut, killing over 300 U.S. and French service members, peacekeepers, and civilians.
That attack, like so many of Hezbollah’s deadly terrorist activities over the past several decades, was sponsored and directed by Iran. And while our nation built a memorial honoring the victims of that attack, Tehran built a monument honoring the perpetrators of that attack.
A full EU designation of Hezbollah now would help demonstrate Europe’s commitment to cracking down on Iran’s use of proxy terror groups destabilizing the region and attacking Western interests.
Now, I understand that the EU has legal concerns about this designation, since Hezbollah has infiltrated Lebanon’s political system.
However, I would just offer this observation.
The terrorist organization Hamas operates as a political party in Gaza, yet the EU still rightly lists the entirety of Hamas as a terror organization.
This has not impacted their ability to support Gaza reconstruction, just as designating Hezbollah would not prevent them from supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Last year the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League both designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. They made no distinction between a military and political wing despite Lebanon being a member of the Arab League.
I hope the EU took note of that.
I thank the Speaker for bringing this resolution to the Floor so that my colleagues can join me in sending an important message to our European friends and allies.
More can be done to counter the Iranian proxy Hezbollah. And that begins with calling them what they are – a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel and undermining the values and interests of the United States and – our EU friends must acknowledge, as well – the values and interests of Europe.
The world knows that Hezbollah is a terrorist group. It’s time for the European Union to end its false distinction and join us in designating all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
And I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to send them that message.