Thu 20 Jun 2024 6:11 pm - Jerusalem Time

“Ungrateful and disturbed.” The White House feels puzzled and “shocked” by Netanyahu’s lies about withholding American weapons.

American officials said that the new dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the administration of President Joe Biden is hampering American-Israeli diplomatic efforts to calm tensions on the Lebanese border and avoid war with Hezbollah, according to the Axios website.

Three Biden administration officials reportedly said they were concerned that Netanyahu's actions were creating distance between the two allies and, as a result, further eroding Israel's deterrence in the region, especially in the eyes of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah.

A senior US official said: “It is difficult to understand how a video like the one Netanyahu released on Tuesday helps deter. “There is nothing better than telling Hezbollah that the United States is withholding weapons from Israel, which is a lie, to make it feel emboldened.”

Nasrallah said on Wednesday that the group could still invade Israeli-occupied northern areas if the conflict escalates.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy said during a visit to the northern border that the Israeli army still has capabilities that Hezbollah does not know about.

He added, "The enemy will confront these capabilities at the appropriate time."

Netanyahu, speaking in English, said in a video on Tuesday that it was “unconscionable for the administration in the past few months to withhold weapons and ammunition from Israel.”

Publicly, the White House expressed its bewilderment. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted that only one arms shipment had been stopped since the war began, while billions of dollars in weapons had flowed unhindered.

“We really don't know what he's talking about,” she said.

In private, the Biden team was angry and shocked by Netanyahu's ingratitude. Some American officials who watched Netanyahu's video said the prime minister appeared "troubled."

Axios noted that the Israeli Prime Minister's Office did not comment on this story.

As a result, the White House decided to cancel a high-level US-Israeli meeting on Iran and Lebanon that was scheduled to be held on Thursday, according to US officials.

In a related context, Netanyahu met on Wednesday with a delegation of members of Congress from both parties led by Representative Steny Hoyer (Democrat from Maryland).

Netanyahu said in a statement that he told the group that he “appreciates bipartisan support for Israel” and said he “hopes that the arms issue will be resolved in the near future.”

Netanyahu's video was released as President Biden's envoy, Amos Hochstein, was traveling between Israel and Lebanon in an attempt to calm the fighting with Hezbollah.

Hochstein was scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Tuesday evening to inform him of his talks with Lebanese officials and discuss ways to avoid war.

According to three sources familiar with the matter, the meeting was “bad.”

The sources said that Hochstein and the US Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, found themselves spending a large part of the meeting delivering a harsh message to Netanyahu regarding the crisis raised by the Israeli Prime Minister.

When Hochstein told him that his accusations about the US withholding weapons were false, Netanyahu claimed to be basing his statements in the video on information from the Israeli Defense Ministry, a source familiar with the discussion said.

A spokesman for Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declined to comment on Netanyahu’s allegations and said: “We regret the leaks and irresponsible statements.”

 All of the US officials interviewed said they did not understand what Netanyahu was trying to do and what he hoped to achieve other than to score political points domestically, according to Axios.

Some US officials speculated that Netanyahu's comments may have been part of a competition with Gallant, who is expected to visit Washington next week to discuss ways to release the temporarily stalled arms shipment.

The US-Israel strategic meeting scheduled for this week has reportedly been cancelled, but minister close to Netanyahu Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi will be at the White House on Thursday for a meeting with Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other officials. .

But American officials said that these meetings will be overshadowed by the crisis and will not result in in-depth discussion and coordination regarding the next steps in Lebanon and Iran, which “is what we desperately need now.”

American officials said they were deeply concerned that Israel and Hezbollah were miscalculating when they escalated their rhetoric and fighting on the ground while believing they could avoid an all-out war.

Source: Sama News


Share your opinion

“Ungrateful and disturbed.” The White House feels puzzled and “shocked” by Netanyahu’s lies about withholding American weapons.