Netanyahu and White House continue public disagreement over claim that US is holding back weapons amid Israel-Hamas war

The public war of words between Israel and the United States continued Thursday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding clearly at the White House after the Biden administration again denied his assertion that the United States held arms to Israel as part of their fight in Gaza with Hamas.

His response came shortly after White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, in a call with reporters Thursday, called Netanyahu’s claims “confusing to say the least” and two days after the White House bluntly stated that it “really didn’t know what he was saying.” talk about.”

In a video he released earlier this week, Netanyahu claimed that “the administration has withheld weapons and ammunition” that Israel needs to fight Hamas.

On Thursday, he said: “I am prepared to suffer personal attacks on the condition that Israel receives from the United States the ammunition it needs in the war for its existence.” »

Kirby reiterated the White House’s frustration.

“Obviously we didn’t know this video was coming and it was confusing to say the least, certainly disappointing, especially since no other country is doing this much to help Israel defend itself against the threat of Hamas, and frankly , against other threats that they face in the region in the United States,” he said, adding that he had “no idea” what prompted the Israeli politician to publish this message.

“There has been no change in our posture,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted Tuesday, saying it was a “regular order,” with the exception of a delivery of bombs of 2,000 pounds suspended due to Biden’s publicly expressed concern over the use of inaccurate munitions. in the town of Rafah, southern Gaza, and other areas heavily populated by civilians.

Two officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel supported the secretary of state’s comments, telling ABC News that the administration continues to process both long-standing pending requests and new orders placed after the start of the conflict.

“We should talk to the Prime Minister about what made him do this,” Kirby said of his video comments. “Again, it was vexing and disappointing to us – as much as it was incorrect. So it’s hard to know exactly what he had in mind.”

Kirby, when asked about behind-the-scenes efforts to get an apology from Netanyahu over the video, also said: “I think we have made clear to our Israeli counterparts, from various vehicles, our deep disappointment with the statements expressed in this video. video and our concerns about the accuracy of the statements made.

Despite growing public tensions, officials from the two countries met in Washington on Thursday to discuss the ongoing war. Kirby confirmed that national security adviser Jake Sullivan would still meet with senior Israeli officials coming to the White House.

“Jake [Sullivan] “I’m going to meet with his counterpart today,” Kirby said, referring to Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of Israel’s National Security Council. He also said that Ron Dermer, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, would be present at the session.

“It’s going to be a wide-ranging discussion, I think you can imagine, about everything that’s going on with the war in Gaza, with our support for Israel, with our efforts to get a better sense of how they continue to carry out operations against Israel, while continuing to talk about the importance of concluding this agreement,” Kirby said before the meeting.

Biden’s team was furious and frustrated by Netanyahu’s video, a U.S. official told ABC News on Wednesday, adding that U.S. officials made it clear to the Israelis that Netanyahu’s video was inaccurate and irrelevant.

But the White House rejected claims that a high-level U.S.-Israeli meeting on Iran scheduled for Thursday was canceled specifically because of the video. Instead, he pointed to scheduling issues as the reason for the meeting’s cancellation. The White House also insists the meeting will be postponed.

At the State Department on Thursday, spokesperson Matt Miller announced that Blinken would meet with Dermer and Hanegbi on Thursday afternoon.

Miller said that during the meeting, officials would discuss “our ongoing work to try to achieve a ceasefire that would ensure the release of all hostages,” as well as the situation in the north. Israel, along the country’s border with Lebanon, as well as working to “bring humanitarian aid to Gaza and the work that needs to be done to accelerate and improve this process.”

ABC News’ Will Gretzky and Shannon K. Crawford contributed to this report.

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