Israel adopts tougher Iran sanctions
by Gavin Rabinowitz Gavin Rabinowitz – Sun Jun 26, 8:38 am ET
JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved broad economic sanctions against Iran, bringing the Jewish state into line with measures taken by other governments.
"The government of Israel authorised economic sanctions against Iran and companies that trade with it," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.
"These steps include a series of administrative and regulatory measures that will place Israel at the international forefront regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran," the statement said.
The measures, which do not need further parliamentary approval, were taken after a committee found in March that, despite years of calling for tough international action against arch–foe Iran, Israel's existing legislation did not live up to public policy.
"The committee's recommendations are an important step in the struggle against Iran's nuclear programme," Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.
"These recommendations ensure that Israel will stand alongside other countries at the forefront of sanctions against Iran, in order to cause the Iranian regime to abandon its plans to develop nuclear weapons," he said.
The issue gained prominence in recent months after a prominent Israeli firm was named in alleged illegal trade with Tehran.
Israel's Ofer Brothers Group owns a major international shipping business which is under investigation after being blacklisted by Washington last month for alleged dealings with Tehran.
According to the US State Department, Ofer Brothers and its alleged subsidiary, the Singapore–based Tanker Pacific, were involved in selling a tanker to an Iranian firm under sanctions last September.
The firm has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying it had no ties to Tanker Pacific and that the State Department had made an "unfortunate mistake."
The allegations caused uproar in Israel, which has repeatedly called for tougher international sanctions against its bitter enemy.
Animosity between the two countries has grown under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly spoken of the Jewish state's demise.
The United Nations imposed a fourth found of sanctions against Iran in June 2010, after Tehran refused to suspend uranium enrichment, the most sensitive part of its nuclear programme.
Israel, the United States and other governments suspect the programme is a cover for developing a nuclear weapons capability, an ambition Iran strongly denies.
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