Netanyahu and White House continue public disagreement over claim US withholding weapons amid Israel's war with Hamas

Netanyahu and White House continue public disagreement over claim US withholding weapons amid Israel's war with Hamas

He said he's "ready to suffer personal attacks" in exchange for U.S. weapons.

ByMichelle Stoddart, Molly Nagle, and Selina Wang

June 20, 2024, 5:00 PM

    The public war of words between Israel and the U.S. continued Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding pointedly to the White House after the Biden administration again denied his claim the U.S. is withholding weapons from Israel amid its fight in Gaza with Hamas.

    His response came shortly after White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, in a call with reporters on Thursday, called Netanyahu's claim "perplexing to say the least" and two days after the White House bluntly said it "genuinely didn't know what he's talking about."

    In a video he released earlier this week, Netanyahu claimed "the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions" Israel needed to fight Hamas.

    MORE: Biden administration strongly denies Netanyahu's claim US is blocking arms shipments amid war with Hamas

    On Thursday, he said, "I am ready to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives from the U.S. the ammunition it needs in the war for its existence."

    PHOTO: National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 2024.

    National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 2024.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

    Kirby reiterated the White House's frustration.

    "Obviously, we didn't know that video was coming and it was perplexing to say the least, certainly disappointing, especially given that no other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas, quite frankly, other threats that they're facing in the region in the United States," he said, adding he had "no idea" what prompted the Israeli politician to post it.

    "There has been no change in our posture," Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted on Tuesday, saying it was "regular order" with the exception of one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs paused over Biden's publicly expressed concern the imprecise munitions could be used in the southern Gazan city of Rafah and other areas heavily populated by civilians.

    Two officials involved in approving arms transfers to Israel backed up the secretary's comments, telling ABC News the administration is continuing to process both longstanding requests in the pipeline and new orders made after the onset of the conflict.

    "You'd have to talk to the prime minister about what prompted him to do that," Kirby said of his video comments. "Again, it was vexing and disappointing to us -- as much as it was incorrect. So, difficult to know exactly what was on his mind."

    MORE: Biden administration strongly denies Netanyahu's claim US is blocking arms shipments amid war with Hamas

    Kirby, asked about a behind-the-scenes efforts to get an apology from Netanyahu over the video, also said, "I think we've made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts from various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made."

    PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony at the Nahalat Yitshak Cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 18, 2024.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony at the Nahalat Yitshak Cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 18, 2024.Shaul Golan/AP

    Despite the growing public tensions, officials from both nations met in Washington on Thursday to discuss the ongoing war. Kirby confirmed that national security adviser Jake Sullivan would still be meeting with high-level Israeli officials coming to the White House.

    MORE: Israel-Gaza live updates: Netanyahu video was 'perplexing,' 'disappointing,' US says

    "Jake [Sullivan] will be meeting today with his counterpart," Kirby said, referring to Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of Israel's National Security Council. He also said that Ron Dermer, Israeli's Minister of Strategic Affairs, would be in the session.

    "It'll be a wide-ranging discussion, I think you can imagine, about everything that's going on with the Gaza war with our support to Israel, with our efforts to get a better sense of how they're continuing to prosecute operations against Hamas, as well as continuing to talk about the importance of closing on this deal," Kirby said ahead of the meeting.

    Biden's team was enraged and frustrated by Netanyahu's video, a U.S. official told ABC News on Wednesday, adding that U.S. officials have made clear to the Israelis that Netanyahu's video is inaccurate and out of line.

    PHOTO: This handout picture released by the Israeli army, on June 20, 2024, shows Israeli army soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas.

    This handout picture released by the Israeli army, on June 20, 2024, shows Israeli army soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas.Israeli Army Handout via AFP via Getty Images

    The meeting comes after the U.S. canceled another meeting between American and Israeli officials to discuss Iran in response to the Netanyahu video, officials confirmed to ABC News.

    But the White House pushed back on claims that a high-level U.S.-Israel meeting on Iran scheduled for this Thursday was canceled specifically because of the video. It instead pointed to scheduling issues as the reason for the cancellation of the meeting. The White House also insists that the meeting will be rescheduled.

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

    Miller said that during the meeting, the officials would discuss "our ongoing work to try to reach a ceasefire that will secure the release of all hostages" as well as the situation in north of Israel along the country's border with Lebanon, as well as ongoing work to "get humanitarian assistance into Gaza and work that needs to be done to accelerate and improve that process."

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

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