Sens. Cruz, Cramer, Reps. Zeldin, Luria Introduce Bill to Curb Hezbollah Influence on Lebanese Forces, Combat Growing Threat Toward Israel
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) today introduced the Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon's Military Act of 2019, which would withhold 20 percent of U.S. military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) unless the President can certify they're taking necessary steps to end Hezbollah and Iran's influence over the LAF.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 calls upon the Lebanese government and LAF to prevent armed groups like Hezbollah from operating in South Lebanon. In December 2018, Israel uncovered six sophisticated cross-border tunnels built by Hezbollah in South Lebanon, which included stairs, a rail system and wide passageways allowing for the movement of equipment and forces, intended to cause substantial harm to Israeli civilians by enabling terrorists to sneak across the border and carry out attacks.
"United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 required the Lebanese Armed Forces to disarm Hezbollah, and the United States gives military assistance to Lebanon to enforce that resolution," Sen. Cruz said. "Last year I secured language requiring an evaluation of whether the resolution was being implemented, and now it's time to take the next step and reassess the assistance we provide if Iran continues to exert influence on the LAF directly or through Hezbollah."
"Israel is our greatest ally in the world's most dangerous region; a threat to them is a threat to us," said Senator Cramer. "Hezbollah is a state sponsor of terrorism, undeserving of assistance from the United States or any country we choose to support. Lebanon must separate itself from Hezbollah's influence, and this legislation urges them to do so."
"Hezbollah has overwhelming political and military influence in Lebanon that presents an imminent geostrategic threat to Israel, and with Iran providing Hezbollah with hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of missiles, Hezbollah's threat to Israel is greater than ever," said Congressman Zeldin. "Meanwhile, the United States is pouring over $1.7 billion in foreign assistance into the LAF as it reportedly takes resources from this flagrant terrorist organization and Iranian puppet. The United States must fight against Iranian influence and stand with our nation's greatest ally - Israel."
"I am proud to work with Congressman Zeldin on a bipartisan effort to combat Hezbollah's influence," Congresswoman Luria said. "We should continue to exert pressure on governments that partner with terrorist groups and threaten our ally Israel. Having visited the border of Israel and Lebanon, I recognize the gravity of this situation and I urge Congress to swiftly pass our bill to curb Hezbollah's presence and impact."