U.S. military aid serves a variety of purposes. Sometimes – as in the case of Israel – it is intended to help a close ally defend itself; other times, it is meant mostly to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Two members of Congress independently placed holds on military aid to Lebanon.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee, separately blocked a $100 million security assistance package to the Lebanese military. Berman placed the hold Aug. 2, one day before the Lebanese military fired at Israeli soldiers working on the border, while Lowey’s hold came after the incident.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli and Lebanese soldiers exchanged tank and artillery fire on Israel's northern border.
Residents of Israel's North were ordered to enter bomb shelters early Tuesday afternoon.
The soldiers were conducting routine operations in an area that lies between the international recognized border between Israel and Lebanon and the security fence, which is considered Israeli territory, according to an Israeli army statement.
There has been a steady and disturbing barrage of reports lately prediciting another war, sooner rather than later, between Israel and Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group that controls most of southern Lebanon and is firmly entrenched in the Lebanese parliament.
Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah terrorists in southern Lebanon moved from the battlefield to the political arena this week.
Ehud Barak, the Labor Party candidate seeking to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the May 17 elections, vowed to withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon by June 2000, within the context of negotiations with Syria. Netanyahu, whose Likud Party at first chastised Barak for turning the issue into a “simplistic election gimmick,” later came close to matching Barak’s pledge.
Israel’s inner cabinet made official what its prime minister and defense minister have been proposing in recent weeks — Israel’s army will conditionally withdraw from southern Lebanon in accordance with a 20-year-old United Nations resolution.
But Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, said the UN has not been asked to play a role in the withdrawal.
A still-stunned Sharbel Barakat, former deputy commander of the South Lebanon Army, admitted here last week that he felt “betrayed” by the sudden withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon a month ago.
“We’re confused [about the retreat],” he said softly. “For 23 years we had an alliance with Israel. We had more families in Israel than in Lebanon.”
As President George W. Bush pressed for a bipartisan congressional resolution in support of military action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, there was increasing speculation that Syria hopes to delay an attack by creating a confrontation between Lebanon and Israel.
The issue is over water and Lebanonís plans to cut back on the amount of water it will permit to flow south into Israel from the Hasbani River, the leading artery in the region.