Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the Persian Gulf Arab states for their recent decision to brand Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.” Following the announcement by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) whose member states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Netanyahu said that this labeling was an “important” and “even amazing” development. The Israeli prime minister said that such measures by the group “have great potential to change the diplomatic reality in the region.”
Netanyahu praise for the Gulf States came hours after Hadash and Balad, two of the parties in the Joint List, condemned the GCC’s decision. Addressing the Knesset’s plenary in a speech about foreign policy on Monday, March 7, Netanyahu pointed to changes in the Arab world which, in his opinion, demonstrate that more countries in the Middle East understand that Israel is “not their enemy … even if [the changes] haven’t reached certain parts of the Knesset.”
The entire Israeli political establishment, from the far right to the Zionist left Meretz party, concurred with the PM’s position. Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Israel Katz, who is a member of the security cabinet, asked the Knesset Ethics Committee to look into how “Arab MKs are sabotaging Israel.” Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said the position of Hadash and Balad is “beyond absurd and only proves yet again that every day that passes and this group of terrorists continues to sit in the Knesset is a disgrace to Israeli democracy.” According to Liberman, Hadash and Balad represent “the worst extremists in the Arab world.” MK Zehava Galon, who heads Meretz, said “The decision by Balad and Hadash to fight against defining Hezbollah as a terror organization marks a moral low.”
Over the weekend the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and its Hadash front had issued a statement condemning the GCC’s designating of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The CPI/Hadash statement severely criticized the Gulf States and the Saudi royal court.
Former Hadash MK and member of the Central Committee of the CPI, Issam Makhoul, said to Haaretz that he isn’t concerned about the reaction of the Israeli public to his party’s position. “On the contrary, we want to explain it to the public in Israel. When we said decades ago that the Palestine Liberation Organization was a liberation group and that it needed to be talked to, in Israel it was considered a terrorist organization until negotiations with it began… Hezbollah is a resistance movement that fought the Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon and supports the struggle of the Palestinian people to end the occupation [of the West Bank].” Makhoul noted that Israel openly supports reactionary and undemocratic regimes like those in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.