US President George W. Bush
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AFP
Cluster munitions in Lebanon
Photo: AFP
Report: Bush may fault Israel on cluster bomb claim
US Congress to discuss Israel's use of cluster munitions during war with Lebanon against existing arms deals. Process may result in prohibiting arms sales to Israel – though estimates doubt Bush administration will push for penalization. Any action will be mostly for show as Israel manufactures its own cluster munitions
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush's administration is expected to tell Congress on Monday that Israel may have violated the terms of its arms deals with America during the second Lebanon war when it used US-made cluster munitions, The New York Times reported Sunday.


According to the report, however, the administration is still divided over whether or not Israel's actions constituted a violation of any agreements as the munitions were used in response to Hizbullah rocket attacks from civilian areas during the war.


The Times postulates that President Bush's administration is unlikely to pursue any sanctions against Israel over the matter. The final decision is up to the president, unless Congress passes legislation against Israel.


Pentagon and State Department officials are also still debating Israel's actions, with some saying that at most it may have been a technical violation.


It should be noted however that any decision to penalize Israel over the issue of cluster munitions would only have a symbolic value as Israel manufactures its own cluster munitions.


State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that there had been an investigation into the matter and that the findings will be presented to Congress on Monday, though the question of whether there has actually been a violation on Israel's part was still undecided.


“It is important to remember the kind of war Hizbullah waged,” said McCormack. "They used innocent civilians as a way to shield their fighters.”


30 dead, 180 wounded by cluster bombs

Israel transferred a detailed account of the use of cluster munitions to the United States but insisted that prior to every use of military force against a populated region Israel warned residents to evacuate the area, which was being used to stage attacks by Hizbullah.


According to official UN reports some 30 citizens have been killed and 180 more wounded by unexploded ordinance in Lebanon.


Washington State Department official John Hillen told Bloomberg News last month that Israel was providing “great cooperation” on the matter. “From their perspective, use of the munitions was clearly done within the agreements,” said Hillen.


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