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Netanyahu accuses Biden of withholding weapons. White House: We ‘do not know what he’s talking about.’

Netanyahu’s complaint came as Democrats signed off on the transfer of F-15 fighter jets to Israel

(JTA) — WASHINGTON — White House officials denied withholding weapons from Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement criticizing the Biden administration for an “inconceivable” delay in delivering weapons.

The exchange came following reports that the administration had pressured congressional Democrats to sign off on a major arms sale.

The statements on Tuesday are the latest development in a long-running debate over American weapons shipments to Israel. Some Democrats are urging Biden to suspend the deliveries because of the mounting death toll in Gaza. Israel says it needs the weapons to defeat Hamas and bring the war to an end.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation,” Netanyahu said Tuesday in a video he posted on multiple platforms, referring to a June 10 meeting he had with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“I said I deeply appreciated the support the U.S. has given Israel from the beginning of the war,” he said. “But I also said something else. I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel. Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies.”

Netanyahu said Blinken had told him “the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.” Netanyahu also compared himself to Winston Churchill — a longtime role model of his — likening American aid for Israel to American weapons deliveries to Britain during World War II.

“During World War II, Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job,’” Netanyahu said. “And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster.”

American officials responded that they did not know what Netanyahu was referring to. While the administration held up shipments of large bombs due to concern over Israel’s invasion of Rafah in Gaza, it has insisted that all other weapons shipments are continuting apace and that it is ensuring that Israel has the necessary firepower to fight Hamas.

“We generally do not know what he’s talking about, we just don’t,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in the daily briefing. “There are no other pauses, none, no other pauses or holds in place” other than the suspension of the 2,000-pound bombs.

Blinken echoed that message in a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He declined to comment on his conversation with Netanyahu, and the State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“With regard to 2,000-pound bombs, because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area like Rafah, that remains under review,” Blinken said. “But everything else is moving as it normally would move.”

He added, “The president’s been very clear from day one, that he will do everything he can to make sure that Israel has what it needs to effectively defend itself against these threats.”

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that key Democrats have signed off on the transfer of F-15 fighter jets to Israel following urging from the administration. New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had held up the approval due to concerns about Israel’s war conduct.

“I have been in close touch with the White House and National Security Council about this and other arms cases for Israel and have repeatedly urged the Administration to continue pushing Israel to make significant and concrete improvements on all fronts when it comes to humanitarian efforts and limiting civilian casualties,” Meeks said in an email to JTA.

“I continue to support the Administration’s pause on certain munitions transfers due to concerns about ongoing civilian casualties in Gaza,” he said. “The aircraft in question will not be delivered until years from now and I remain supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself against the real threats posed by Iran and Hezbollah.”

A spokesman for Sen. Ben Cardin, the Jewish Marylander who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longstanding and staunch Israel supporter, told JTA that “any issues or concerns Chair Cardin had were addressed through our ongoing consultations with the Administration, and that’s why he felt it appropriate to allow this case to move forward.”

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