PM: Certain items trickled in but most armaments left behind

Netanyahu says US arms supplies fell away 4 months ago; he went public as last resort

At cabinet meeting, PM alleges ‘dramatic drop’ in weapons shipments, says he only spoke out after months of quiet efforts failed to solve problem; hopes it will be resolved soon

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on June 23, 2024 (Screen grab/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on June 23, 2024 (Screen grab/GPO)

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision to release an English-language video last week panning the United States for holding up weapons shipments, saying that he had only gone public after quiet attempts to solve the problem failed.

After expressing his appreciation for US President Joe Biden’s support during the war against Hamas, Netanyahu alleged that four months ago, there was a “dramatic drop” in the weapons pipeline to Israel.

“For many weeks,” said Netanyahu, “we appealed to our American friends to speed up the shipments. We did it time and time again. We did this at the senior echelons, and at all levels, and I want to emphasize — we did it in private chambers. We got all kinds of explanations, but we didn’t get one thing: The basic situation didn’t change.”

According to the premier, “certain items trickled in, but the bulk of armaments were left behind.”

The White House has repeatedly rejected Netanyahu’s claim, insisting that it only has withheld one shipment of heavy bombs it was concerned Israel would use in the densely-populated southern Gaza city of Rafah, while all other transfers have continued at a normal pace.

Responding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest claim, the White House sufficed with saying that it looks forward to hosting Defense Minister Yoav Gallant later this week.

“We have made our position clear on this repeatedly, and we aren’t going to keep responding to the Prime Minister’s political statements. We look forward to constructive consultations with Defense Minister Gallant in Washington this week,” said a White House official.

Netanyahu has yet to specify which weapons shipments the US has allegedly withheld.

A source familiar with the matter says there has been no halt in shipments. However, emergency procedures that fast-tracked the transfer of weapons toward the beginning of the war are no longer in place, as the Biden administration remains concerned about Israel sparking a regional war.

US President Joe Biden speaks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

The White House expressed deep frustration with Netanyahu’s criticism last week.

“It was perplexing to say the least, certainly disappointing, especially given that no other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters last week.

“The idea that we had somehow stopped helping Israel with their self-defense needs is absolutely not accurate,” he said, describing the claim as “vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect.”

Gallant is slated to meet with top US officials over the issue on Sunday in Washington, DC.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant makes a statement before flying to Washington, June 23, 2024 (Defense Ministry)

“After months with no change in the situation, I decided to express it publicly,” Netanyahu said during the Sunday cabinet meeting, adding that his “years of experience” have taught him that doing so was key to unblocking the aid.

He added that — as occurred around his public opposition to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and to a Palestinian state — he had expected to come under fire after releasing the video.

“I am ready to suffer personal attacks for the sake of Israel’s security,” Netanyahu declared, and said he believes the issue will be resolved soon.

Netanyahu has yet to disclose what other weapons shipments he was referring to when he blasted the alleged delays in weapons transfers.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas charged that the administration has also held up deliveries of fighter jets, tactical vehicles, mortars, tank shells and other munitions by not informing Congress of plans to ship them.

Sen. Tom Cotton speaks with reporters at the Senate Subway on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mariam Zuhaib)

According to unsourced reports during his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month in Jerusalem, Netanyahu demanded that the frequency of US arms shipments return to the level it was at immediately after the October 7 Hamas attack.

Asked to confirm Netanyahu’s account of their meeting during a press conference in Washington, Blinken indicated that the Israeli premier was exaggerating the existence of a so-called “bottleneck.”

“We are continuing to review one shipment that President Biden has talked about with regard to 2000-pound bombs because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area like Rafah. That remains under review,” Blinken said.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about. We just don’t,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said later.

Troops under the Negev Brigade operate in southern Gaza’s Rafah, in a handout photo published June 19, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Last month, after Biden threatened that some additional transfers would be frozen if Israel launched its planned major offensive in Rafah, Netanyahu vowed that if Israel “has to stand alone, we will stand alone.”

The US has long been by far the largest arms supplier to its closest Middle East ally, followed by Germany — whose strong support for Israel reflects in part atonement for the Nazi Holocaust — and Italy.

The IDF pushed into Rafah’s eastern outskirts and the border crossing with Egypt in early May. In the second stage of the operation, about a week and a half later, it captured the Brazil neighborhood.

The third stage of the Rafah offensive saw the IDF take control of the entire Egypt-Gaza border, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, and push into the city’s northwestern Tel Sultan neighborhood.

The IDF said it has killed at least 550 gunmen in the Rafah operation — that is, those it was able to physically identify following battles. The IDF has said the Rafah operation would conclude in the coming weeks.

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