BEIRUT: The U.S House of Representatives, also known as the lower chamber of Congress, passed unanimously this week the latest amendments to the 'Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act' targeting the group's global financial network.
Despite Congress voting on the bill twice last year, both the Senate and House of Representatives have bickered over slight differences, with the latest amendments bringing in Hezbollah's main sponsor Iran into the fold as well as Lebanese parliamentarians belonging to Hezbollah or its affiliates.
The bill seeks to introduce "diplomatic initiatives to prevent hostile activities by Iran and disrupt and degrade Hezbollah’s illicit networks" through efforts to target and expose "illicit finance networks, arrest perpetrators and freeze asserts.”
The recent amendments go a step further, however, introducing a clause permitting U.S President Donald Trump to report on "individuals who are members of the Lebanese Parliament and who identify as members of Hezbollah."
The bill states that the President may designate officials while "blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism."
“Today’s bill will build on existing sanctions against Hezbollah by targeting its global fundraising and recruiting, as well as those who provide it weapons,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement after the vote, expressing hope that the "Senate will take it up quickly.”
The bill, first introduced in 2015 by Senator Marco Rubio (R-LF), seeks to clamp down on Hezbollah's global revenue and financial streams by blocking the assets of anyone the U.S President determines “provides significant financial, material or technological support.”
In April, two US congressmen presented a bill targeting the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah after introducing to Congress the 'Disarm Hezbollah Act' (HR 5540) which instructs the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to further investigate the group in terms of its "capabilities, arsenal, and the illicit supply routes it uses to procure weapons."
The US designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1997 while the European Union added its military wing to the terrorism list in 2013.
In January 2018, the US also put forth a bill that urges the EU to classify Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist cell, after the EU initially ignored pressure from the US and its ally Israel to ban the organization outright, allowing contacts with its political representatives.
For further reading, check out the complete list of amendments.
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