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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 13, 2003

Government divided on Hezbollah, report shows

Foreign Affairs officials were still in contact with Hezbollah and treating it as a "political party" just weeks before Ottawa placed the radical Islamic group on Canada's list of illegal terrorist entities, newly released documents show.

"Hezbollah is an important political party to the Lebanese parliament," Department of Foreign Affairs officials wrote in October. "We have vigorous contacts and exchanges with them on the questions that separate us."

The report, released to the National Post, hints at the division within the federal government over how to deal with terrorist groups: While Foreign Affairs officials were treating Hezbollah as a legitimate parliamentary block, Canadian security agencies were preparing the paperwork to ban the radical Islamic group.

The Foreign Affairs depiction of Hezbollah as an "important political party" contrasts sharply with the description of the group released by the Solicitor-General of Canada less than two months later that said: "Hezbollah, meaning Party of God, is an Islamist terrorist organization." [more]