WASHINGTON – The State Department this week will place Hezbollah's television station on its list of terror organizations, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
Hezbollah (search), which operates mostly in southern Lebanon and is financed by Iran with help from Syria, has carried out a cross-border war with Israel for years.
More recently, Hezbollah increased its support for attacks on Israel from Palestinian areas, and helps fund Hamas (search) and other Palestinian armed groups, Israel has asserted.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) recently said Hezbollah was responsible for about 80 percent of terror attacks on Israel.
Its television station al-Manar is being listed by the State Department as a terror group for broadcasting incitement, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, France's Council of State, the country's highest administrative body, banned satellite broadcasts by the television station. Al-Manar was ordered off the air by Wednesday evening, a move praised by Foreign Minister Michel Barnier as "just."
The anticipated U.S. action against al-Manar, reported initially by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, could curtail broadcasts over an American satellite network.
In France, Hezbollah television would face a fine of about $6,600 a day if it did not stop broadcasting over the Paris-based satellite Eutelsat.
Officials of the television channel said in Beirut that Israeli pressure was behind the French ruling.
David A. Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said Wednesday "steadfast as we are in protection of free-speech rights, the need to prevent al-Manar from using American airwaves to spread its message of death and destruction trumps those rights."
Harris said the United States has labeled al-Manar's parent, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization already and that the television operation is not entitled "to wrap itself in the mantle of America's protective freedom in order to promote incitement against America and its allies."