Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) introduced the Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act (HATA), H.R. 2215, with a bipartisan group of original cosponsors including Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), and Nick Rahall (D-WV). This legislation is necessary to make certain that no U.S. taxpayer funds benefit the terrorist organization Hezbollah or any party that allies itself with Hezbollah.
Modeled on the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act which Congress passed following Hamas’ election to leadership of the Palestinian Authority in 2006, HATA will set rigorous requirements for the provision of foreign assistance to Lebanon during periods when Hezbollah is part of the majority governing coalition. The introduction of the legislation comes in the wake of the establishment this week of a new Lebanese government forged by Hezbollah and led by a Hezbollah-designated prime minister.
“The emergence of a Hezbollah-inspired Lebanese government, under the leadership of a Hezbollah hand-picked prime minister, is a disturbing development,” said Congressman Berman. “Hezbollah’s contempt for democratic procedures has been more than amply demonstrated over the years. Its parliamentary faction is but a political front for a cut-throat terrorist militia, and it has repeatedly used violence and the threat of violence to intimidate its political opponents. As Hezbollah prevents Lebanon from becoming a functioning democracy and, in fact, subverts Lebanon’s democratic institutions, we must be both wise and firm in our response.
“The goal of the legislation is to ensure that none of our assistance to Lebanon benefits Hezbollah 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,” added Congressman Berman
“Hezbollah is a terrorist group and a cancer on Lebanon. The Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act surgically targets this cancer and will strengthen the position of Lebanese who oppose Hezbollah. This bipartisan legislation that takes the right approach to a dangerous situation,” said Congressmen Issa.
“U.S. policy toward Lebanon must be consistent with our core values and national security interests. This legislation follows those principles by ensuring no taxpayer money will benefit Hezbollah,” Congressman Boustany said. “I have serious and grave concerns about the composition of the Lebanese Cabinet and the direction they may take the country. The situation remains fluid and I will monitor developments to ensure the new government’s actions are not contrary to U.S. national interests. Furthermore, this government must be willing and able to work with its neighboring countries to promote peace and stability in the region.”
“Rep. Berman has been fair in his help to the people of Lebanon,” said Congressman Rahall. “This legislation continues that policy by allowing humanitarian, IMET, and assistance to educational and democratic institutions to continue. In addition, our President is given waiver authority and the government of Lebanon is given the incentive to improve democratic institutions, reduce inflammatory influences, and assure the sovereignty of Lebanon.”
Below, please find a summary of H.R. 2215, the Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act (HATA).
H.R. 2215, The Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act of 2011 (HATA)
The Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act, or HATA, is legislatively necessary to make certain that no U.S. taxpayer funds benefit the terrorist organization Hezbollah, financially or politically. Modeled on the Hamas-focused Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (PATA) that Congress passed overwhelmingly in 2006, HATA will set rigorous requirements for the provision of foreign assistance to Lebanon during periods when Hezbollah is part of the majority coalition of the Lebanese government. The goal is to signal to American friends in Lebanon that we will continue to support them, while we vigorously oppose Hezbollah.
HATA will declare that the policy of the United States is to:
(1) Promote the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Lebanon.
(2) Oppose those organizations, individuals, and countries that practice or support terrorism and use Lebanon as a base to instigate attacks of any kind against the United States, the West, and the State of Israel.
(3) Promote the rule of law, democracy, the cessation of terrorism and incitement, and good governance in Lebanon.
(4) Urge members of the international community to avoid contact with and refrain from supporting the terrorist organization Hezbollah until it renounces violence and disarms.
HATA will prohibit U.S. foreign assistance to a Hezbollah-dependent Lebanese government, i.e., a government in which Hezbollah is part of the majority coalition, UNLESS the President certifies that:
Hezbollah has ceased its support for terrorism, renounces violence, and disarms - and ceases using Lebanon’s territory as a base to launch attacks against the State of Israel;
the Hezbollah-influenced Lebanese government has made demonstrable progress toward dismantling all Hezbollah terrorist and military infrastructure within Lebanon, arresting and bringing all wanted Hezbollah terrorist terrorists to justice, ending all Hezbollah imports of military and terrorism-related equipment, destroying unauthorized Hezbollah arms factories, thwarting and preempting terrorist attacks, and fully cooperating with UNIFIL peace keepers.
The legislation is not meant to end all foreign assistance to Lebanon. There are built-in exceptions for assistance for humanitarian, democracy-building, and educational assistance. There is also an exception for IMET funding, in order to allow for continued contact with the Lebanese military.
HATA will also provide the President the waiver authority to support necessary American national security initiatives in Lebanon, as well as our friends in Lebanon, while keeping U.S. funds out of the hands of Hezbollah.