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Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The European Union on Friday announced it had adopted a legal framework for new sanctions against Lebanese individuals responsible for obstructing or undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country.

The big picture: Lebanon has been without a working government since August of last year, when Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned after a deadly explosion in Beirut.

  • "Protesters blamed the disaster, which killed more than 211 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless, on the ruling elite's corruption," Axios' Dave Lawler writes.

What they're saying: "The EU remains committed to helping Lebanon and its people to overcome the present challenges and is ready to use the different instruments at its disposal to do so," the EU said in a statement.

  • "It is, however, of the utmost importance that the Lebanese leadership put aside their differences and work together to form a government and enact the measures required to steer the country towards a sustainable recovery."

Details: The EU did not specify what individuals would be sanctioned. A source told Al Jazeera that the member states will enter a discussion to agree on who will be listed.

  • "Sanctions consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed," the EU explained.
  • All 27 member states must vote unanimously to impose the sanctions, per Al Jazeera.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised Europe's decision, saying in a joint statement that "it is critical that Lebanese leaders heed their people’s repeated calls for an end to widespread corruption and government inaction and form a government that can initiate the reforms critical to address the country’s dire situation."

  • "Sanctions are intended, among other things, to compel changes in behavior, and promote accountability for corrupt actors and leaders who have engaged in malign behavior," they added.
  • "We welcome the EU’s use of this powerful tool to promote accountability on a global scale."

Go deeper

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Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

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The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

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Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.