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What the papers said 6 August 2018

rfi English, Aug 6

Hard times for Marine Le Pen's penniless National Rally; what has Donald Trump got against the rug-sellers of Tehran, and has Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gone too far with his latest law on the status of the Jewish state?

The French far right political organisation, the National Rally, previously trading as the National Front, is on the verge of bankruptcy.

According to Le Monde, lawyers representing the party presided over by Marine Le Pen will today warn the judges at the Paris Appeals Court that the political organisation will be broke unless it receives two million euros in French public grants, withheld in the wake of revelations that party employees were being paid by the European Parliament.

The National Rally claims that it is the victim of an attempted "political assassination".

On the basis of its performance in the last parliamentary elections, the party is entitled to public grants of 4.5 million euros every year. But the payments have been blocked by French judges investigating allegations that Marine Le Pen fraudulently drew on European funds to pay forty members of her own party staff in France. To the tune of 6.8 million euros over two mandates.

Marine Le Pen variously says her party is the victim of "the death penalty," of a "coup d'état," of "persecution". She says there is no legal basis for withholding the money.

The European Parliament has already launched its own procedures to recover the cash paid to parliamentary assistants working for the far right party.

And another thing!

Conservative daily Le Figaro also notes the financial troubles of the National Rally, adding that party membership figures are dramatically down, with a mere 31,000 fully paid up supporters at the start of June.

There were 83,000 paid up members of the National Front just before the last presidential election.

Times are so hard, says Le Figaro, that headquarters has had to ask certain local federations to forego the 60 percent of membership fees which they normally retain.

Pulling the rug from under his own feet!

The White House in Washington is to make public the details of renewed sanctions against Iran. This follows the decision by the Trump administration last May to withdraw from the 2015 six-nation deal on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Financial transactions will be blocked, some Iranian raw materials will be banned from US ports, the sales of American cars and planes will be halted. Every news agency on the planet notes that Iranian rugs will no longer be welcome in America.

Iranian oil exports to the United States won't be affected for at least another six months. The rugs face the axe at midnight on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has recently attempted to resume dialogue with the authorities in Tehran, only to be told by Ali Motahari, the vice-president of the Iranian parliament, that the eve of a resumption of sanctions provoked by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal is hardly an ideal time for fresh negotiations.

Trump now has six months to find a solution before he shoots himself in yet another foot by cutting off the Iranian oil supply. Washington's demand that China, India and Turkey end all imports of Iranian oil has already got key American allies grumbling and sent world prices soaring.

Law divides Jewish state

Libération gives the front-page honours to "The law which is tearing Israel apart".

There were protests in Tel Aviv at the weekend against a law accepted last month which makes Israel "the nation state of the Jewish people," thus relegating members of minority populations to the status of second class citizens.

Opposition has come from Israeli Arabs, from the Muslim Druze community, and from members of the Jewish peace movement.

Libé's editorial is headlined "Indignation", describing this latest move by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a possible step too close to the abyss. Boosted by the unconditional support of Donald Trump, by a fearful electorate, and by the increasingly powerful domestic extreme right, Netanyahu has put Israel's democracy at risk. The new law is, says Libé, nothing less than a contradiction of the founding principles of Israel.

It risks, according to the same editorial, not only dividing those Jews who live in Israel, but of widening the gap between them and the global Jewish community.

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