Netanyahu again claims US withholding weapons days after Washington denial

Netanyahu Again Claims Us Withholding Weapons Days After Washington Denial
The spat highlights how high tensions have surged between the two key allies over the war in Gaza. Photo: PA Images
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Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said there has been a “dramatic drop” in US weapons deliveries for Israel’s war effort in Gaza, doubling down on a claim Washington has denied and underscoring the growing strains between the two allies.

Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that the drop occurred four months ago, without specifying which weapons, saying only that “certain items arrived sporadically, but the munitions at large remained behind”.


The spat highlights how high tensions have surged between Israel and Washington over the war in Gaza, particularly surrounding the Israeli military’s conduct in the beleaguered territory and the harm to civilian life there.

US president Joe Biden has delayed delivering certain heavy bombs since May over those concerns, but his administration fought back last week against Mr Netanyahu’s charges that other shipments had also been affected.

People taking part in a protest against the Israeli government
Regular protests have been held in Israel against Binyamin Netanyahu’s government and calling for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas (Leo Correa/AP)


Mr Netanyahu told the cabinet he was driven to release a video in English last week after weeks of unsuccessful pleas with American officials to speed up deliveries. |But he said a resolution appeared close.

“In light of what I have heard over the past day, I hope and believe that this matter will be solved soon,” he said, without elaborating.

Mr Netanyahu’s video last week sparked an uproar among critics in Israel and was met with denial and confusion from White House officials.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the US was “perplexed” by Mr Netanyahu’s claims, while press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “We generally do not know what he’s talking about.”


His remarks came hours after Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant travelled to Washington for meetings with senior officials. A statement from Mr Gallant’s office said he would discuss “maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge in the region”, but made no mention of the weapons issue.

Palestinians gather round hole created by Israeli bomb
Palestinians gather at the edge of a crater created by an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza (Jehad Alshrafi/AP)

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’s October 7th attack on southern Israel, has tested the US-Israel relationship like never before. While the US has staunchly supported Israel’s aims of freeing hostages taken into Gaza and defeating Hamas, it has grown increasingly concerned over the rising Palestinian death toll and the humanitarian crisis created by the war.


Mr Biden has felt pressure from progressive Democrats to take a tougher line against Israel, and he has sharpened his warnings to Mr Netanyahu over military tactics in the Gaza Strip.

But after threatening to impose a more sweeping ban on arms transfers over an assault on Rafah, the administration has avoided any suggestion that Israel’s expanding push into the southern Gaza city has crossed a red line.

During an election year, Mr Biden is also facing critics on the right who say he has moderated his support for an essential ally in the Middle East.

For Mr Netanyahu, the growing daylight with the US also poses political risks and opportunities.


His critics see the public spats as the result of a leader prepared to wreck important alliances and tarnish Israel’s image in the world for political gain.

But the rift grants the long-serving leader a chance to show his base that he is not beholden to the US and that he is putting Israel’s interests first.

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