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Iran to punish firms trading with Israel

TEHRAN, Jan 12 – 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.

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

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

Nearly 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.

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