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Netanyahu: Blinken Vowed US Is Removing Restrictions on Weapons to Israel

The US doesn’t have any restrictions on weapons to Israel, the White House said, except for one paused bomb shipment.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, arrives for a meeting in Jerusalem, Israel, on April 17, 2024.

As the U.S. was supposedly hard at work negotiating a Gaza ceasefire deal last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly assured Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. was working “day and night” to remove restrictions on weapons shipments to Israel, the Israeli prime minister said in a statement Tuesday — despite the Biden administration denying that it is withholding weapons at all.

While saying that it is “inconceivable” that the U.S. would withhold some weapons from Israel, Netanyahu said, “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks.”

Netanyahu went on to pledge to “finish the job,” likely referring to Israel’s war of extermination against Palestinians against Gaza. This appears to directly contradict U.S. officials’s claims that Israel is supportive of its permanent ceasefire agreement.

Blinken and Netanyahu met on Monday of last week, and the State Department said that the two discussed the U.S.’s much-touted ceasefire proposal, something Netanyahu did not mention at all in his statement on Tuesday.

When asked about the veracity of Netanyahu’s claim in a press conference on Tuesday, Blinken was dodgy.

“I’m not going to talk about what we said in diplomatic conversations,” he said.

“The president’s talked about, publicly, about the 2,000-pound bombs and the concerns that we have about them being used in densely populated areas. That remains,” Blinken continued. “But there’s been no change in our posture. And our posture is, again, to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself across these many threats.”

The shipment of 2,000-pound bombs is still under review, he said.

In a separate press conference, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clarified that the U.S. is not withholding weapons from Israel as Netanyahu claimed.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about,” she said. The administration has only paused one shipment of 500-pound unguided bombs, Jean-Pierre reiterated. “There are no other pauses, none.”

It’s unclear what there is left for the administration to review in terms of the 2,000-pound bombs. President Joe Biden said in May that the administration would withhold certain 2,000-pound bombs from being sent to Israel if Israeli forces launched an invasion of Rafah, in southern Gaza. The administration has said that an invasion of Rafah — which was, for months, Palestinians’ last “safe place” in Gaza — is a “red line” that Israel must not cross.

But when Biden said that, Israel was already days into its invasion. U.S. officials clarified that they believed that Israel had only been in Rafah on a “limited” basis.

Israel’s invasion has been anything but limited. The UN reports that only 65,000 Palestinians are left in Rafah, compared to 1.4 million who were sheltering there prior to May. This week, Israeli forces reported that they have taken over an estimated 60 to 70 percent of Rafah. As their tanks push further into the city, Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians, if not hundreds.

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