France and the European Union are putting together proposals that could see asset freezes and travel bans imposed on Lebanese politicians to push them finally to agree on a government to rescue their country from economic collapse.
"Concrete proposals are being developed against the very people who have abandoned the general interest in favor of their personal interests," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers on Tuesday.
"If certain political actors don't assume their responsibilities, we won't hesitate to assume ours."
Two diplomats told Reuters Le Drian's staff were investigating how the European Union could set up a sanctions regime involving travel bans and asset freezes.
At an EU foreign ministers' meeting on March 22, he also asked EU High Representative Josep Borrell to work on an options paper, a senior EU member state diplomat in Brussels said.
"The French are trying to Europeanize the Lebanon issue. It's not something they can handle alone - or, at least, their solo efforts haven't paid off so far," the diplomat said.
"Sanctions haven't been discussed directly, but if they are a way to change behavior, they can't be ruled out. Lebanon needs a functioning government."
An explosion last August destroyed entire neighborhoods of Beirut, and the government that resigned as a result has not been replaced, just as decades of patronage, corruption and mismanagement have left Lebanon almost bankrupt.