Blinken Says Weapon Shipments to Israel Proceeding ‘Normally’ Despite Netanyahu’s Concerns

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on June 18 that although the U.S. government is continuing to hold up a shipment of bombs to Israel, all other shipments of U.S. military aid for Israel are moving forward as they “normally would.”

President Joe Biden’s administration first said in May that it had decided to halt and review a shipment of bombs meant for Israel over concerns that those munitions could create an undue risk of civilian casualties as Israeli forces continue their military campaign in the Gaza Strip. That paused shipment consists of 2,000-pound bombs and might include 500-pound bombs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again raised concerns about delays in U.S. arms shipments to Israel in a June 18 video message. The Israeli prime minister said he had shared those concerns with Mr. Blinken during the U.S. secretary of state’s recent visit to Israel.

“I said I deeply appreciate the support the U.S. has given Israel from the beginning of the war,” Mr. Netanyahu 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 ammunition [from] Israel.”

The Israeli prime minister went on to say Mr. Blinken had given him new assurances that the Biden administration would remove additional “bottlenecks” that may be slowing U.S. weapons shipments to Israel.

Mr. Blinken faced questions about this recent conversation during a news conference alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on June 18.

The U.S. secretary of state insisted President Biden has been clear that the United States would continue to provide Israel with “what it needs” to defend itself.

“We, as you know, are continuing to review one shipment that President Biden has talked about, with regard to 2000-pound bombs, because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area like Rafah. That remains under review,” Mr. Blinken said. “But everything else is moving as it normally would move.”

It was not entirely clear from Mr. Netanyahu’s video statement whether he was alleging that the U.S. government was holding up other rounds of military assistance or whether he was simply conveying frustration over the ongoing holdup on the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also expressed confusion about Mr. Netanyahu’s comments, stating, “We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about; we just don’t.” She also noted the continued pause on the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs and said the Biden administration is continuing to discuss that particular shipment with Israeli counterparts.

“There are no other pauses,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.

While Mr. Blinken and Ms. Jean-Pierre described the paused shipment as one consisting of 2,000-pound bombs, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said he believes that 500-pound bombs included in the same arms package are also still being withheld, telling reporters during a June 18 news briefing that “it was all part of one shipment that has been suspended.”

The Pentagon spokesman said later in the June 18 news briefing that he was unsure of how many additional arms packages the Biden administration has sent to Israel since it announced the decision to pause one shipment of bombs last month but that he knew that some new rounds of military aid have gone through to Israel since then.

Mr. Netanyahu concluded his June 18 video message by stating that the Biden administration could help Israeli forces to more quickly conclude their military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

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

Mr. Netanyahu is slated to address a joint session of Congress on July 24.

From The Epoch Times