update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Netanyahu: ‘Inconceivable’ that Biden admin has withheld arms from Israel 

The Israeli prime minister said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to fully resume the flow of weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 10, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 10, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a recent visit to the Jewish state that it is “inconceivable” for the administration to withhold weapons and ammunition during its war with Hamas in Gaza.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation. I said I deeply appreciated the support the U.S. has given Israel from the beginning of the war. But I also said something else. I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel,” the premier said in a video message on Tuesday.

“Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu continued. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.

“During World War II, Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job.’ And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster,” the prime minister concluded.

Asked about Netanyahu’s video remarks at a joint press availability with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, Blinken said that a single shipment of 2,000-pound bombs remains under review, but that all of the other arms deliveries are moving forward.

“We, as you know, are continuing to review one shipment that President Biden has talked about with regard to 2,000-pound bombs because of our concerns about their use in densely populated area like Rafah. That remains other under review. But everything else is moving as it normally would move, and again, with the perspective of making sure Israel has what needs to defend itself against this multiplicity of challenges,” Blinken said.

Asked if Netanyahu was telling the truth, Blinken said, “I’ve been as clear as I possibly be. I’m not going to talk about what we said in diplomatic conversations. I can just say, again, we have a commitment to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself against a whole variety of threats. Gaza is part of it, but it far surpasses Gaza in terms of the threats they face. The president is committed to that.

“We continue to move these different cases through our system on regular order. We have one case that the president has talked about publicly about the 2,000-pound bombs and about the concerns that we have about them being used in densely populated areas. That remains. We continue to work through that. But there’s been no change in our posture, which, our posture is, again, to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself across these many threats.

“Many of the systems that are moving through our system are ones that have been on order for, in some cases, years. It takes a long time to move these things, and a number of the things that are going to Israel won’t get there for years. That is the nature of the way this works. But it’s regular order with the exception of that one system that we have talked about many times in public.”

Bill in works to try and force aid

Blinken promised Netanyahu on June 10 that the Biden administration would resume all arms shipments to the Jewish state “in the coming days,” according to reports in Hebrew media on Tuesday morning.

The news comes as intense combat operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip are winding down with most of the terror group’s battalions dismantled.

Netanyahu told Blinken during their meeting in Jerusalem last week that Washington had effectively suspended all military aid to the IDF amid the war in Gaza and the looming escalation with Hezbollah on the northern border, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

Last month, administration officials confirmed a decision to withhold the delivery of thousands of bombs to Israel amid U.S. concerns that the Israel Defense Forces would use them in the Hamas stronghold of Rafah.

The announcement came as U.S. President Joe Biden told CNN that he would be halting the shipment of offensive weapons if Jerusalem went ahead with its counterterrorism operation in Gaza’s southernmost city.

“If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities—that deal with that problem,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an interview.

Netanyahu reportedly told Blinken during their meeting that while Israel would continue to fight without U.S. support, the arms embargo gave Iranian-backed Hamas and Hezbollah a strategic edge, raising the chances of a prolonged war on multiple fronts in the Middle East.

On May 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to try and force the White House to provide the delayed military aid.

The act would cut off funding for the U.S. State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council if Biden did not release the shipment or withhold any future shipment of arms to Israel.

The White House had said the president would veto the legislation if it came across his desk, stating, “This bill could raise serious concerns about infringement on the president’s authorities under Article II of the Constitution, including his duties as commander-in-chief and chief executive and his power to conduct foreign relations.”

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