ARAB AND WORLD

Thu 20 Jun 2024 9:53 pm - Jerusalem Time

Tension between Washington and Tel Aviv, and the White House describes Netanyahu's statements as insulting

On Thursday, the White House considered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements this week regarding the delay in delivering US arms shipments to his country "insulting," while American and Israeli officials are holding a number of meetings in Washington, amid these tensions.


National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, "Those statements were deeply disappointing and certainly insulting to us, given the amount of support we provide and will continue to provide."


Last Tuesday, Netanyahu published a video clip in English in which he said that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had assured him that the administration of President Joe Biden was working to lift restrictions imposed on the delivery of weapons to Israel, something that Blinken refused to confirm.


In a rare revelation of high-level private diplomatic talks, Netanyahu also said he told Blinken that it was “unbelievable” that Washington had “withheld weapons and ammunition” from Israel over the past few months.


In a later statement, Netanyahu said that he was ready to endure personal attacks on the condition that Israel obtains the American weapons it needs in the war for its existence, he said.


In turn, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said - in a press briefing last Tuesday - "We really don't know what he's talking about, we just don't know."


Blinken said that the arms shipments, except for one with large bombs, were proceeding as usual given that Israel faces security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran, but he declined - during a press conference on Tuesday - to comment on his private conversations with Netanyahu.


The United States in May suspended a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs to Israel over concerns about the impact they could have in densely populated areas, but Israel is still set to receive billions of dollars in American weapons.


The American move came after the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip led to the death of about 37,000 people and turned the Strip into barren lands.


Upcoming meetings

Amid these tensions between the two allies, officials said that two senior advisors to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington on Thursday.


A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer will meet with Sullivan, while a larger “strategic dialogue” meeting is rescheduled.


A senior State Department official said that Blinken will meet with Israeli advisors at 3 p.m. local time.


The White House official explained that the broader meeting had not been cancelled, but its details had not yet been finalized.


He said, "Meanwhile, meetings are being held with Israeli officials throughout the week at the level of experts and senior officials regarding a range of topics."


Last April, Biden warned Israel that the United States would stop supplying it with weapons if its forces carried out a major operation in Rafah, the city in the southern Gaza Strip, which is the last refuge for many people displaced by the war.

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Tension between Washington and Tel Aviv, and the White House describes Netanyahu's statements as insulting

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