Netanyahu Doubles Down on Claim Biden Is Withholding Arms Shipments

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

President Biden on March 8, 2024, at Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. AP

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told his cabinet on Sunday that there had been a “dramatic drop” in American weapons deliveries for Israel’s war effort in Gaza, doubling down on a claim that the Biden administration has denied and underscoring the growing strains between the two allies.

Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet that the drop had 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. President Biden has delayed delivering certain heavy bombs since May over concerns about the war, but his administration fought back last week against Mr. Netanyahu’s charges that other shipments had also been affected.

Mr. Netanyahu told the cabinet that he was driven to release a video in English last week after weeks of unsuccessful pleas with American officials to speed up deliveries. 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. The White House national security spokesman, John Kirby, said the United States was “perplexed” by Mr. Netanyahu’s claims. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We generally do not know what he’s talking about.”

His remarks came hours after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant traveled 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.

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 Mideast ally.

For Mr. Netanyahu, the growing daylight with America also poses political risks and opportunities. The rift grants the long-serving leader a chance to show his base that he isn’t beholden to the United States and that he is putting Israel’s interests first.

The New York Sun

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