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Biden administration strongly denies Netanyahu’s claim US is blocking arms shipments amid war with Hamas

Written by on June 19, 2024

(WASHINGTON) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public assertion that the Biden administration is broadly withholding military support for Israel amid its ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza prompted confusion and frustration across Washington on Tuesday, as Biden administration officials flatly denied the allegations.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her daily press briefing. “We just don’t.”

Netanyahu made the accusations in a video posted to X.

Speaking in English, he said he told Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the U.S. diplomat’s recent visit to Israel that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions.”

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” he continued.

In the prime minister’s retelling of the conversation, Blinken gave assurances that the Biden administration was working “day and night” to remove “bottlenecks.”

“I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case,” Netanyahu said.

During a news conference Tuesday at the State Department, Blinken was asked for his side of the story.

While the secretary declined to confirm or deny Netanyahu’s characterization of their discussion, he repeatedly underscored the Biden administration’s commitment to Israel’s defense.

“It’s very important to remember that our security relationship with Israel goes well beyond Gaza. Israel is facing a multiplicity of threats and challenges including in the north, from Hezbollah, from Iran, from the Houthis in the Red Sea,” Blinken said.

He also emphasized President Joe Biden’s promise to ensure Israel has “what it needs to effectively defend itself against these threats,” arguing it was critical to avoiding greater escalation in the Middle East.

“There has been no change in our posture,” Blinken insisted, saying it was “regular order” with the exception of one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs paused over Biden’s publicly expressed concern the imprecise munitions could be used in the southern Gazan city of Rafah and other areas heavily populated by civilians.

Two officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel backed up the secretary’s comments, telling ABC News the administration is continuing to process both longstanding requests in the pipeline and new orders made after the onset of the conflict.

Although the Biden administration has faced increasing pressure from members of the president’s own party to halt military support for Israel, Blinken invoked emergency authorities twice in December to bypass congressional review and speed up arms shipments to the country.

“Since Hamas’ vicious attack on Oct. 7, we’ve rushed billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel to enable them to defend themselves,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday. “And we are going to continue to provide them the security assistance they need for defense.”

While the administration has promised it will continue to support the Israeli military, a review of U.S. defense transfers ordered by President Biden cast significant doubt on whether Israel was using American arms in compliance with international humanitarian law.

The report, which was released in May, found it was “reasonable to assess” that defense articles provided by the U.S. been used by Israeli security forces in Gaza in ways there were “inconsistent” with the country’s legal obligations or best practices for mitigating civilian harm.

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