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The New Arab

Israel attempted to block humanitarian sanctions-waiver that helps Iran combat coronavirus

Iran has confirmed over 106,000 coronavirus infections [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 May, 2020

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Israel failed to block an Iran sanctions waiver made on humanitarian grounds to help the coronavirus-hit country battle the outbreak.
Israel reportedly tried to impede attempts to relax international sanctions on Tehran over humanitarian concerns in recent months, as Iran became the Middle East epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a Sunday report, Israeli outlet Haaretz cited unnamed Israeli diplomats saying the Jewish state tried to exert pressure on international institutions against the easing of sanctions on Iran as a humanitarian gesture – even as the Islamic Republic struggled to contain a sweeping coronavirus outbreak.

Iran has confirmed over 106,000 coronavirus infections that have resulted in over 6,500 deaths as of Sunday.

Israeli officials claimed that Iran is "exploiting" the coronavirus pandemic to get sanctions lifted, and argued that the funds should be "supervised" and used only for "the purchase of humanitarian equipment."

Israel's global pressure campaigns also aimed to outlaw the political wing of Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah, the sources told Haaretz.

Read also: Iran ready to swap prisoners over 'coronavirus concerns,' waiting for US response: reports

The sources also referenced last month's release of $1.6 billion in Iranian assets that were frozen in Luxembourg on a US request. 

Jerusalem, they said, had kept a close eye on Iran's attempts to free up the frozen funds, but failed after the decision was overturned on appeal.

Last month, the US waived sactions to allow humanitarian trade through transactions with Iran's sanctioned central bank. The move allows companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to coronavirus-hit Iran.

Iran has also requested a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stem the spread of the virus. The request was blocked by the US – which holds a veto at the IMF – over "terrorism" concerns.

Despite American objections, the European Union said it will support Tehran's request for IMF assistance, and has pledged to send 20 million euros in humanitarian aid to help alleviate the coronavirus.

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