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Netanyahu defends decision to go public with complaint about US weapons supplies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week said the US was “withholding weapons” prompting pushback from the Biden administration. Shaul Golan/Pool/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his decision to go public about delays in the supply of weapons from the United States, saying months of private discussions did not yield any results.

At the beginning of a cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said that “after months of no change in this situation, I decided to give it a public expression. I did this based on years of experience, and knowing that this step is essential to extracting the cork.”

Netanyahu claimed on Tuesday that the Biden administration was “withholding weapons” in a video posted to X, claiming that Secretary of State Antony Blinken “assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks.”

In response, US envoy Amos Hochstein told Netanyahu that his comments were “unproductive” and “more importantly, completely untrue.”

While not the first time Netanyahu has publicly lambasted the Biden administration in the course of the Israel-Hamas war, the dispute comes as the stakes around the war in Gaza and a potential further conflict between Israel and Hezbollah remain high.

The US remains Israel’s most important ally and biggest supplier of arms but has voiced increasing concern over the mounting civilian casualties in Gaza.

Speaking during the meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said: “About four months ago, there was a dramatic drop in the supply of armaments arriving from the US to Israel. For weeks we asked our American friends to speed up the shipments. We did it time and time again.”

“We did it at the highest levels, and at all levels, and I want to emphasize – we did it in private rooms. We got all sorts of explanations, but one thing we didn’t get: the basic situation didn’t change.”

Netanyahu went on to say that “in light of what I have heard in the last day, I hope and believe that this issue will be resolved in the near future.”

Israeli defense minister heads to the US

Amid the dispute, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday reiterated the importance of Israel’s relations with Washington ahead of a visit where he is scheduled to meet his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, Blinken and other senior US officials.

“The United States is our most important and central ally. Our ties are crucial and perhaps more important than ever, at this time,” Gallant told reporters, according to a statement from the Israeli defense ministry.

Gallant is set to discuss Israel’s war against Hamas and “efforts to ensure the return of the hostages” as well as “measures required to achieve regional stability,” according to the statement.

The Israeli defense minister has clashed with Netanyahu, who is facing an ongoing battle to keep his government together.

While Gallant – a retired general – went public earlier this year and said there should be no Israeli rule in post-war Gaza, far-right members of the cabinet oppose any future independent Palestinian state.

In his statement, Gallant spoke of the transition to a “Phase C” in Gaza. It’s unclear whether he was referring to a different stage in the fighting or how to prepare for post conflict. CNN has reached out to Israel’s ministry of defense for more details.

“I will discuss this transition with U.S. officials, touching on how it may enable additional things [to take place], and I know that we will achieve close cooperation with the U.S. on this issue as well,” Gallant said.

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