White House rejects Netanyahu’s claim US is withholding weapons: ‘We genuinely don’t know what he’s talking about’

‘Categorically false’ that more than one shipment has been delayed, says Karine Jean-Pierre

John Bowden
Washington DC
,Andrew Feinberg
Tuesday 18 June 2024 21:22 BST
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AP)

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The White House vehemently denied that further arms shipments to Israel were being delayed on Tuesday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu claimed that the US was holding up supplies of munitions to Israel’s military.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu posted a video to social media in which the prime minister, speaking in English, blasted the Biden administration and said he’d told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

The Israeli leader, who over the weekend shuttered his war cabinet after two centrist ministers withdrew from it over his lack of planning for governance in Gaza after the current war against Hamas is concluded, posted the video at the same time Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to claim that the Biden administration “has made Israel’s task even more difficult” by withholding weapons.

Netanyahu has long exhibited no qualms about interfering in American politics to the benefit of Republicans, who have generally given his government a free hand to expand West Bank settlements and marginalize the Palestinian Authority in ways that make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict increasingly difficult to achieve.

Israel Palestinians
Israel Palestinians (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the Israeli leader at her daily White House briefing, telling reporters: “We genuinely don’t know what he’s talking about.”

Echoing comments made by Blinken at an earlier press conference, Jean-Pierre stated that only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs has been withheld during Israel’s offensive in Rafah.

She also said that it was “categorically false” for Netanyahu to say that any shipments beyond those 2,000-pound bombs had been delayed as a result of the Biden administration’s efforts to push Israel to take further steps to mitigate civilian casualties.

But Jean-Pierre declined to say whether Netanyahu’s claim was part of an effort to achieve political ends, either domestically or in the US.

“I can’t speak to his political strategy ... I can’t speak for the Prime Minister. He’s clearly speaking for himself,” she said.

Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress next month during a visit to Washington.

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