Israel pushing foreign allies to impose sanctions on aid to Lebanon: Reports

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing foreign allies to impose sanctions on aid to Lebanon in order to pressure Lebanese officials to clamp down on Hezbollah’s missile-development activities, following reports that the Trump administration suspended millions of dollars’ worth of aid to Lebanon, according to several Israeli media outlets.

During a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week, Netanyahu reiterated Israeli suspicions, shared by Washington that Iran has been trying to equip Lebanon’s Hezbollah with precision-guidance systems.

The US State Department informed congressional officials on Thursday of the suspension, which includes $105 million in security aid, according to the Wall Street Journal, however, officials said the State Department gave no reason for the cutoff of the funds.

A State Department official had told Al Arabiya on Saturday that the Trump administration’s stance on suspending aid to the country was unchanged, stressing on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s call on political leaders “to urgently facilitate the formation of a new government that can build a stable, prosperous, and secure Lebanon.”

The holdup comes at a time when Lebanon is in political turmoil, with weeks of protests leading to the resignation of Saad Hariri from the office of prime minister.

The Wall Street Journal cited a congressional official as saying that the Lebanese Armed Forces is “a critical institution” to the country’s stability, ensuring that Lebanon can carry out operations against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah smuggling networks.

However, Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over the growing role of Hezbollah in the Beirut government, the armed Shia group backed by Iran and listed as a terrorist organization by the US.

Lebanon has been arguing with foreign donors over international aid for months. Before he resigned, Hariri failed to convince foreign donors to release $11 billion in assistance pledged at a Paris conference last year.

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