Top US lawmaker: Block aid to Lebanese military

Aug 9th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Congress should block roughly 100 million dollars in aid to Lebanon’s military until it can be sure the country’s armed forces are not working with Hezbollah, a top lawmaker said Monday.

Pointing to last week’s deadly clash between Israeli and Lebanese troops along the countries’ shared border, Representative Eric Cantor warned the lines between the Shiite movement and Lebanon’s armed forces had become “blurred.”

“The days of ignoring the LAF’s (Lebanese Armed Forces’) provocations against Israel and protection of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon are over,” said Cantor, the number two Republican in the House of Representatives.

“Lebanon cannot have it both ways. If it wants to align itself with Hezbollah against the forces of democracy, stability and moderation, there will be consequences,” said Cantor, a fierce defender of Israel.

“Congress must convey that message by blocking the roughly 100 million dollars in 2011 assistance to the LAF until we find out the details of last week’s attack and can certify that the Lebanese army is not cooperating with Hezbollah,” said Cantor.

Cantor said the United States had provided roughly 720 million dollars since 2006 in military aid “to build up a Lebanese fighting force that would serve as a check on the growing power of the radical Islamist Hezbollah movement.

But “for the past few years, the US and the international community looked the other way as the lines between Hezbollah and the Lebanese military and government became blurred,” he warned.

Relations between Israel and Lebanon have been strained in the wake of the deadly exchange of fire last week which killed two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist, as well as an Israeli officer.

The standoff was sparked when Israeli troops tried to cut down a tree on the border, prompting the Lebanese to fire on them.

© 2010 AFP

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