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White House, Netanyahu clash over claims of withheld weapons

White House officials are pushing back against allegations from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Biden administration was withholding weapons and ammunition from Israel, saying they don’t know what the prime minister was talking about.

Netanyahu posted a video to social platform X on Tuesday in which he addressed the camera in English and called it “inconceivable that, in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

Biden administration officials expressed confusion over the prime minister’s remarks, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had met with Netanyahu last week.

“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 a densely populated area like Rafah,” Blinken said. “That remains under review. But everything else is moving as it normally would.”

When asked about Netanyahu’s comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about. We just don’t.”

Axios reported the White House had canceled a high-level meeting with Israeli officials that was scheduled for Thursday in the wake of Netanyahu’s comments.

A White House official told The Hill the meeting still had not been finalized so it was not canceled.

“In the meantime, meetings with Israeli officials are being held throughout the week at expert and senior levels on a range of topics,” the official said. “As we said in the briefing yesterday, we have no idea what the Prime Minister is talking about, but that’s not a reason for rescheduling a meeting.”

The back-and-forth marks the latest instance of tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu spilling into the public as Israel carries out its war against Hamas.

Democrats, including President Biden, have grown frustrated with the war in Gaza, where more than 37,000 people have died as Israel fights to destroy Hamas, the militant group that invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking another 250 hostage.

The White House has for months urged Israel to do more to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza, and polling has shown growing frustration over Biden’s handling of the conflict.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll published last month found Biden with a 36 percent job approval rating on the conflict, down from 39 percent in April and 44 percent back in October, when the question was first posed. 

Biden warned last month he would stop supplying Israel with offensive weapons such as bombs and artillery shells if it launched a long-promised invasion of Rafah. But the White House has maintained Israel has not crossed a red-line, even after an Israeli strike killed dozens of Palestinians in the southern Gaza city.

Two key Democrats on Tuesday approved the sale of U.S. weapons, including F-15 fighter jets, to Israel after months of inaction on the arms transfer.

Source: The Hill

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