US has ‘dramatically’ reduced arms supplies to Israel, Netanyahu claims

Benjamin Netanyahu said that weapons had been delayed, which the US has denied
Benjamin Netanyahu said that weapons had been delayed, which the US has denied - ABIR SULTAN/POOL EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The US has “dramatically” cut its arms supplies to Israel over the past four months and repeatedly ignored requests to reinstate them, Benjamin Netanyahu claims, as he doubled down in an argument with the US.

Relations between the longtime allies have fractured in recent months over Israel’s perceived lack of restraint in pursuit of its war aims.

Since May, the US has been withholding shipments of large bombs to avoid them being used in the densely populated city of Rafah.

But Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, claimed that other weapons had been delayed, which the US has denied.

‘Behind closed doors’

Speaking at a government meeting on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said he felt impelled to publicly comment on the situation.

“Since the start of the war, the US has given us support in spirit and in material – defensive and offensive means. But four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the munitions coming to Israel from the US.

“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends and requested that the shipments be expedited. We did this time and again. We did so at the highest levels, and at all levels, and I want to emphasize – we did so behind closed doors.

“We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we did not receive; the basic situation did not change. Certain items arrived sporadically but the munitions at large remained behind.”

Fracturing relations

The eight-month war sparked by Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7 has seen Israel condemned by world leaders, rights groups and the UN’s top court for its overly aggressive military campaign in Gaza. By extension, the US has also been criticised as Israel’s biggest military and political backer.

To distance himself from Israel’s direction in the war, President Joe Biden expressed last month his frustration with his counterpart.

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet: They’re not going to get our support if they go [into] these population centres,” Mr Biden said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

US officials have come out to counter Netanyahu’s claims over weapons, with Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, saying, “We generally do not know what he’s talking about.”

Ronen Solomon, a security analyst in Israel, said: “The special aid package for Israel passed the approval of the budget law in the House of Representatives and the US Senate only on April 20 and also included $4.4 billion, which the US had already transferred to Israel in the first months of the war, such as artillery shells and bombs. Netanyahu himself welcomed the vote at the end of April.”