Netanyahu claims Israel saw ‘dramatic drop’ in US arms shipments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated Sunday his claim that President Biden held back arm shipments to his country, amid a spat between the world leaders over the Israel-Hamas war.

Netanyahu said that Israel saw a “dramatic drop” in U.S. arms shipments, a characterization the Biden administration has strongly denied.

When the prime minster first made the claim last week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about. We just don’t.”

The Biden administration delayed a shipment of heavy bombs in May over concerns about their use against civilians, though Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that “everything else is moving as it normally would.”

The clash comes as Netanyahu appears reluctant to embrace a cease-fire deal that Biden has championed, which would lead to a halt in fighting and the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas leaders have also not agreed to the framework in its entirety.

Early this month, Biden said there’s “every reason” to think Netanyahu is prolonging the Israel-Hamas war for his own political gain.

Netanyahu said Sunday that the Israeli offensive in Gaza is “winding down,” but warned that a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon could be on the horizon, as border tensions rise. The Biden administration has strongly pressured Netanyahu and the Israeli government not to invade Lebanon, fearful of a wider regional war.

Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown warned Sunday that Iran would likely back Hezbollah if Israel were to launch an offensive, effectively turning fighting into a proxy war and potentially putting American service members at risk.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Washington on Sunday to meet with senior Pentagon officials about the rising tensions.

In recent weeks, Israeli officials have increasingly warned that a wider conflict is inevitable with Hezbollah. As the cross-border shelling has become more intense, Netanyahu warned earlier this month that “one way or another” Israel “will restore security to the north.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stressed Thursday that “conversations are ongoing” between officials in the region who are still holding out hopes for a diplomatic solution.

“We still don’t want to see a second front opened up,” he told reporters. “Obviously, we take the tensions and the rhetoric seriously by both sides. And we’re doing everything we can to try to prevent that outcome.”

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