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Iran to sanction firms trading with Israel
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Sanctions will apply to multinationals which have branches in Iran, invest in occupied Palestinian lands

TEHRAN - Iran's government has endorsed a bill that will sanction foreign companies doing business with Israel, in the face of the Jewish state's deadly assault on Gaza, the Iran newspaper reported on Monday.

The sanctions will apply to multinationals which have branches in Iran and which "invest in the occupied lands (of Palestine) or help the Zionist regime," the government-run paper said.

The draft bill adopted on Sunday will now be put before parliament, which is expected to pass it overwhelmingly.

The report gave no details of the nature of the envisaged sanctions.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday called on Muslim countries to unite to bring about an end to Israel's "genocide" against the people of Gaza.

The Iranian foreign ministry called for "any measure to stop the blockade, invasion and violence" in Gaza.

"In all areas, including economic, the parliament and government are seriously following it up and are identifying Zionist companies," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashgavi told reporters when asked about the sanctions and if they apply to companies such as Swiss group Nestle.

Nestle has been the target of protests by Islamists since the Gaza onslaught began, some Iranian websites said.

It is among a small number of foreign companies which have factories in Iran, which notably also includes French automaker Renault.

Others, such as South Korean group Samsung, market their products in the Islamic republic. Some, particularly in the oil and gas sector, have operated in the country for some time, such as France's Total and Anglo-Dutch Shell.

"A committee has been set up to examine the situation of different companies and the results will be announced when finalised," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organisation.

The Iranian industry ministry last week ordered the suspension of all trading by foreign firms "whose shares could be owned" by Israelis.

On December 31, a branch of Italian clothing retailer Benetton was set on fire in Iran amid protests against the Israeli operation in Gaza. The company's branches which had gone on a temporary closure are now back in business.

A prominent grand ayatollah, Naser Makarem Shirazi, has also issued an Islamic fatwa, or religious decree, to ban "Zionist products", the state broadcaster said on its website.

Iran is a staunch supporter of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza and does not recognise its archfoe Israel.

At least 900 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its onslaught on December 27 in the face of persistent rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants.

Source >  Middle East Online | Jan 12

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