Lawmakers to Stop Hizbullah Aid

New legislation introduced by Jewish and Lebanese Congressmen would stop U.S. funds from going to Hizbullah.

Tags: Lebanon
Elad Benari , | updated: 5:13 AM

Rep. Howard Berman
Rep. Howard Berman
Wikimedia Commons

A Jewish Congressman has teamed up with Lebanese counterparts in an attempt to block any American funds from benefitting the Hizbullah terror group.

Democratic Congressman Howard L. Berman, who represents California’s 28th congressional district, has introduced legislation called the Hizbullah Anti-Terrorism Act (HATA). Berman is working on the issue with Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.), all of whom are of Lebanese origin.

The Lebanon-based Daily Star newspaper reported that HATA is modeled on an earlier legislation known as the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (PATA), which was passed by Congress following Hamas’ election victory in the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006.

HATA outlines rigorous terms on foreign assistance to Lebanon during the periods that Hizbullah is part of the majority governing coalition.

The legislation came in response to the formation of a new government in Lebanon last week. The new government, under premier Najib Mikati, is essentially a Hizbullah government.

Mikati, formerly the head of Lebanon’s opposition, is known for his tendency to support Syria and Hizbullah. In January he was given solid majority of 68-60 to replace former Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, whose government collapsed after Hizbullah and its allies walked out, leaving Hariri without a coalition.

The Daily Star quoted Congressman Issa as saying that Hizbullah “is a terrorist group and a cancer on Lebanon. He added that HATA “surgically targets this cancer and will strengthen the position of Lebanese who oppose Hizbullah.”

HATA will prohibit U.S. foreign assistance to a Hizbullah-dependent Lebanese government unless the president certifies that the organization has disarmed and no longer supports terrorism, violence and attacks from Lebanese territory against Israel.

It also emphasizes that the legislation is not an end to United States foreign assistance to Lebanon, as it allows for humanitarian assistance as well military and educational training to ensure continual contact with the Lebanese military.

Berman was quoted as saying, “The goal of the legislation is to ensure that none of our assistance to Lebanon benefits Hizbullah in any way. We certainly want to assist our friends in Lebanon – and we will – but we also want to make sure we don’t inadvertently help our enemies at the same time. This legislation leaves ample scope to do both.”

Berman was behind an earlier to hold up U.S. military aid to Lebanon, following an attack last August by the Lebanese army on the IDF in Israeli territory. Senior reservist officer Dov Harari was killed by a bullet fired by a Lebanese army soldier.

Berman, who said at the time he is concerned that the $100 million in military aid for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) will be used by Hizbullah terrorist forces, later removed his opposition to the military aid for Lebanon. At the time he said he had been “reassured as to the nature and purposes of the proposed package. As a result of these assurances, I am lifting the hold on the $100 million spending plan for the Lebanese Armed Forces.”