“Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the (Lebanese army) — and can assure that the (Lebanese army) is a responsible actor — I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,” Berman said in a statement.
Hezbollah was not involved in the most recent fighting but some have suggested that the group may have encouraged it.
In announcing the hold, Berman joined other lawmakers in urging the Obama administration to review its policy of providing weapons and training to the Lebanese military.
The Aug. 3 exchange of fire across the Lebanon-Israel border killed four people, including two Lebanese soldiers and the Israeli officer, in the most serious fighting since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
Reps. Ron Klein, D-Fla., and Eric Cantor, R-Va., have made similar calls.
“Lebanon cannot have it both ways,” Cantor said in a statement. “If it wants to align itself with Hezbollah against the forces of democracy, stability and moderation, there will be consequences.”
He noted that the United States has since 2006 given the Lebanese army about $720 million in aid, including M-16 assault rifles, missile launchers, grenade launchers and night-vision goggles in addition to training.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have backed sending aid to Lebanon’s army, maintaining that a professional military is critical for the government to exert its sovereign authority, which has been challenged by armed Hezbollah militants.
The State Department said Monday there was no evidence that American-supplied equipment had been used by Lebanese soldiers involved in the shooting incident. It said it was not yet clear if the soldiers involved had received U.S. military training.
Spokesman P.J. Crowley defended the assistance.
“We have an extensive military cooperation program with Lebanon because it’s in our interest to have that program,” he said. “It allows the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereignty. We believe that is in the interest of both of our countries and regional stability as a whole.”
Crowley told reporters he was not aware of plans to reevaluate U.S. military cooperation with Lebanon.
no evidence? the photos of the Lebanese soldiers that were shot had American guns!!!!! wtf? no evidence? who do these people think they are kidding?