Netanyahu says US arms delay row to be 'resolved in near future'

Ahram Online , AFP , Sunday 23 Jun 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday a row with the United States over weapons delays relating to the Gaza war would be resolved soon.

File photo- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .AP


"About four months ago, there was a dramatic drop in the supply of armaments arriving from the US to Israel. We got all sorts of explanations, but... the basic situation didn't change," he told a cabinet meeting.

"In light of what I have heard in the last day, I hope and believe that this issue will be resolved in the near future," he added.

He said top Israeli officials lobbied their US counterparts at "the highest levels... at all levels" for speedier weapons deliveries.

"After months of no change in this situation, I decided to give it a public expression," he said.

Netanyahu irked Washington with a video statement earlier this week accusing it of "withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel".

US officials have said they were not aware of what Netanyahu was referring to.

Netanyahu's latest comments came as Defence Minister Yoav Gallant flew to Washington for talks about the Gaza war.

“The meetings with the senior government officials are critical for the future of the war,” Gallant said in a statement shortly before he left for the US.

“During these meetings, I plan to discuss developments in Gaza and Lebanon,” he said.

 “We are prepared for any action that may be required in Gaza, Lebanon, and additional areas.”, Gallant added.

According to Israeli media, Gallant is expected to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns, and Special Envoy Amos Hochstein.

The main aim of the whirlwind is to get the US to unfreeze a shipment of heavy-duty bombs it has been withholding from Israel, Times of Israel reported.

US President Joe Biden has delayed delivering certain heavy bombs to Israel since May over concerns about the killing of civilians in Gaza. However, the administration has gone to lengths to avoid any suggestion that Israeli forces have crossed a red line in the deepening Rafah invasion, which would trigger a more sweeping ban on arms transfers.

 The White House was baffled by Netanyahu's video last week that Biden is withholding weapons.

"Let me just start off by saying that we genuinely do not know what he's talking about," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

With the exception of "one particular shipment of munitions" that US officials were looking at closely, Jean-Pierre said "there are no other pauses. None."

The White House also took a step further by canceling a high-level US-Israel meeting on Iran that was scheduled for last Thursday, two US officials told Axios.

"This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts," a US official said."

Some Israeli officials were already en route to Washington when the meeting was canceled, according to Axios.

Two American officials told Axios the meeting was canceled to send a message about the video.

A third claimed the meeting was postponed rather than canceled, due to a scheduling issue.

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