Update on the Israel-Hamas and Gaza War: Israel’s Defense Minister arrives in Washington

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel expressed fresh grievances on Sunday about the Biden administration providing ammunition to the war in Gaza as his defense minister arrived in Washington for a meeting with senior US officials.

Several Israeli news agencies have portrayed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s visit, although planned in advance, as a “reconciliation” trip aimed at easing recent tensions with Israel’s most important ally. country. Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration are increasingly at odds over Israel’s behavior in Gaza, and Netanyahu mock in the United States last week for withholding ammunition.

But on Sunday morning, Netanyahu doubled down. In remarks delivered in Hebrew before the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he appreciated the Biden administration’s support for Israel during eight months of war, “but starting from four Last month, the supply of weapons decreased significantly.”

“For many long weeks, we turned to our American friends and asked to expedite shipments. We have done it time and time again,” Netanyahu said, adding that he also tried to work behind closed doors.

“We have received all kinds of explanations, but there is one thing we have not received: The basic situation has not changed,” he continued, adding, “Some items sent to irregularly, but most of the ammunition remained.”

There was no immediate comment from the Biden administration on the remarks, which could hurt Mr. Gallant in Washington. They came just days after Netanyahu issued a war-mongering declaration videotapesin English, criticizing the Biden administration for, as the Israeli leader put it, refusing weapons and ammunition when Israel was “fighting for its life” against Iran and other common enemies.

US officials at the time said they had found the video “confused” and have no idea what Netanyahu is talking about. While the Israeli Prime Minister complained about the “bottleneck”, the Biden administration still insisted that it was only holding back one shipment The bomb weighed 2,000 pounds because of concerns about their use in densely populated areas of Gaza.

Many Israelis were similarly confused by the prime minister’s decision to engage in such a public fight with the White House, with harsh criticism even from his own conservative Likud Party.

Yuli Edelstein, a Likud lawmaker and chairman of the Israeli Parliament’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “surprised” by the video. He told Israel’s “Meet the Press” program on Saturday that differences of opinion with the United States should not be resolved “through video clips.”

Some Israeli political analysts believe that Mr. Netanyahu’s move could be an attempt to interfere in US politics before the presidential election in November and give Donald Trump and the Republican party a stick to use. defeat the Democrats. Netanyahu is expected to speak at a joint session of Congress next month.

However, other experts say Netanyahu’s public confrontation may have more to do with Israel’s internal politics amid growing signs of tension within his hawkish coalition – the the most right-wing and religiously conservative coalition in Israel’s history.

“If there is any logic to be found in a completely illogical move, then one has to look at all of this through Netanyahu’s lens, with the ultimate goal being his political survival.” .

Netanyahu has “pandered to extremists in Israel in the short term,” he added, “and may cause damage to the military, to the relationship with the United States and to the country in the long term. ”

Netanyahu on Sunday defended his actions, saying he made the public statement based on “years of experience and understanding that this step is important to resolve the bottleneck,” adding, “ I am ready to accept personal attacks on behalf of the state of Israel.”

He also suggested that his public criticism could bear fruit.

“Based on what I have heard over the past 24 hours, I hope and believe that this matter will be resolved in the near future,” he said.

His continuation of the controversy on Sunday and Mr. Gallant’s trip to the United States come at a critical juncture. The Israeli military says it wants to reduce fighting in Gaza and is likely to turn its attention to the northern border with Lebanon, after weeks of escalating tit-for-tat attacks between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, which Iranian-backed Lebanese militia.

The Biden administration is working to find a diplomatic solution to prevent a full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. President Biden has also invested time and political capital to endorse Israel’s proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza involving the exchange of hostages – including some have US citizenship – for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas has raised significant concerns about the proposal and negotiations have reached a deadlock.

According to Mr. Gallant’s office, Mr. Gallant was invited to Washington by his counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. It also said he planned to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other senior US officials.

“The United States is our central and most important ally,” Mr. Gallant said shortly before departing. “Our relationship is important and perhaps more important than ever at this time,” he added.

Mr. Gallant and Mr. Netanyahu are themselves adversaries who have clashed publicly in recent months, even as they jointly oversee Israel’s military operations. When Israel’s prime minister lashed out at the White House, he did engaging in increasingly public quarrels with the army and his right-wing coalition partners.

Gabby Sobelman Report contributions.


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