Lebanon's industry minister, also a member of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, warned during a cabinet session Thursday that a "red line" was crossed after two Lebanese banks reportedly suspended three Hezbollah-linked accounts in conformity with a U.S. sanctions law.
The U.S. regulations say Washington will target those "knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions for" Hizbullah or any individual, business or institution linked to the group.
Two Lebanese banks have suspended the accounts of two Loyalty to Resistance bloc MPs and the account of the daughter of an ex-MP who was in the bloc, according to LBCI TV.
Commenting on the banks' measures during the cabinet session, the industry minister, Hussein Hajj Hassan, warned that "the U.S. sanctions shall not pass."
Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said following the cabinet session after extensive discussions, the cabinet decided to task the prime minister with following up on the issue, with the central bank governor in coordination with the finance minister who is in the picture of the contacts and the taken measures.
Central Bank governor Riad Salameh said last week that the bank will abide by the restrictions in the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which was signed into law in December.
Earlier Thursday, Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc said U.S. sanctions on banks that knowingly do business with the group could threaten Lebanon's financial sector, hinting that supporters may withdraw their money from local banks.
The bloc also criticized Lebanon's central bank for saying it would abide by the U.S. law, which the Hezbollah lawmakers said violates Lebanon's sovereignty.
The bloc said the central bank and private banks would be participating in "a war of exclusion" against the group by upholding the law.