New tensions emerge between White House, Israel's Netanyahu over 'weapons'

New tensions emerge between White House, Israel's Netanyahu over 'weapons'
The White House said it has 'no idea' what Netanyahu is referring to, after the Israeli PM said that the US is withholding weapons from the country.
3 min read
The White House called Netanyahu's comments 'deeply disappointing' and 'vexing' [Getty/file photo]

New tensions emerged this week between President Joe Biden's administration and Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli premier's criticism of US weapons deliveries - comments the White House described Thursday as "vexing" and "disappointing."

The issue began when Netanyahu claimed in a video posted on social media earlier this week that the US administration - Israel's main military backer - has been "withholding weapons and ammunitions" from his country in recent months.

"Those comments were deeply disappointing and certainly vexing to us, given the amount of support that we have and will continue to provide," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists.

"No other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas and, quite frankly, other threats that they're facing in the region," Kirby said.

The previous day, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that "we genuinely do not know what he's talking about".

With the exception of "one particular shipment of munitions," Jean-Pierre said "there are no other pauses. None".

She was referring to a shipment of 2,000 pound bombs that Washington has said is under review because of concerns about their use in densely populated areas.

The US is Israel's long-term ally, and has supplied millions of dollars in weaponry as Israel wages its deadly war in Gaza, killing at least 37,431 Palestinians as of Thursday.

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Washington has criticised Israel for its actions in Gaza sporadically, but has continued to provide financial amd military support regardless.

Biden-Netanyahu tensions

But Netanyahu appeared to double down later on Thursday, saying in a statement that he is "prepared to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives the ammunition from the US that it needs in the war for its existence."

The spat is not the first between the head of the Israeli government and Biden's administration since the start of the Gaza war on October 7, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Biden previously stated his strong opposition to a major Israeli operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million civilians were located, and threatened to stop certain arms deliveries if his warning was not heeded.

The Gaza war is a particularly thorny issue for the 81-year-old Biden, who is seeking a second term in office this year.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the ever-rising death toll has led to sharp criticism of the president from the progressive wing of his party, particularly from Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib - pressure Biden has gone on to "balance" with long-standing US policy of backing Israel.

Despite the deadly Rafah attacks, including the massacre in Tel al-Sultan which killed between 45 to 50 Palestinians, the US insisted it will not change its policy towards Israel.