Israel slams new European recruits to Iran barter system

sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), along with Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel (L) and Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman (R), attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, 1 December 2019. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (1 December) denounced six new European members of a barter mechanism with Iran, saying it encouraged Tehran’s repression of protests.

“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” the embattled leader said in a statement.

“These European countries should be ashamed of themselves.”

Protests broke out across sanctions-hit Iran on 15 November, hours after a sharp fuel price hike was announced.

Reports of deaths and arrests emerged as security forces were deployed to rein in demonstrations which turned violent in some areas, with dozens of banks, petrol garages and police stations torched.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International has said 161 demonstrators were killed.

EU urges end to Iran protest violence

The European Union on Thursday (21 November) called on Iran to show “maximum restraint” in handling protests that have rocked the country, leaving several people dead, and urged an end to violence.

Six EU countries announced on Friday they will join the INSTEX mechanism, designed to allow trade with Iran despite the US sanctions.

Six European countries join EU-Iran financial trading mechanism INSTEX

Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden will join the INSTEX mechanism for trade with Iran, the six countries declared in a joint statement on Friday (29 November) ahead of further talks between parties to the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna next week.

“Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden could not have picked worse timing,” said an English-language statement from the Israeli foreign ministry.

“The hundreds of innocent Iranians murdered during the latest round of protests are rolling in their graves.”

A 2015 international agreement set out restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions.

The Paris-based INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange.

The system has not yet enabled any transactions.

Last year Washington unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reinstated crippling sanctions against Tehran.

Israel, which accuses the Islamic republic of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, vigorously opposed the 2015 pact and is lobbying for more sanctions, not fewer.

“We ask these European countries — what message are you sending to the Iranian people?” the foreign ministry statement said.

“Would it not be more effective and ethical to designate the regime officials responsible for the murder of innocent civilians?”

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