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Republican senators accuse Biden admin of slow-rolling Israel aid

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(JNS) A pair of Republican senators have accused the Biden administration of slow-rolling military aid to Israel, as the public spat between the allies over arms sales continues to escalate.

“The White House is mad because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is telling the truth,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) wrote on Wednesday.

Hagerty noted that the Biden administration “has refused to send Congress formal notifications to finalize a host of arms sales to Israel,” including F-15s, smart bomb kits and munitions even after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee “informally cleared these sales.”

“The norm is for the executive branch to submit formal notifications to Congress roughly 48 to 72 hours after committees informally cleared proposed arms sales,” Hagerty added. “But the Biden administration is violating this norm amid Israel’s multi-front war.”

Netanyahu released a video on social media on Tuesday saying that “in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

The White House has insisted that it only paused a single shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns that they could cause civilian casualties. It has been said that all other arms sales and military aid to Israel are flowing normally.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday. “We just don’t.”

John Kirby, the White House national security communications advisor, repeated to reporters at a briefing on Thursday that the White House does not understand what Netanyahu is saying.

“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 and, quite frankly, other threats that they’re facing in the region, than the United States,” Kirby said.

“It was vexing and disappointing to us as much as it was incorrect, so difficult to know exactly what was on his mind,” Kirby added.

 

Although Kirby announced that Washington is prioritizing surface-to-air missile sales to Ukraine above other countries, he told reporters on Thursday that Israel would be unaffected by the move.

Following an Axios report on Tuesday that Biden canceled a meeting with Netanyahu scheduled for the latter’s upcoming trip to Washington in July, Kirby was asked during the call with reporters on Thursday whether the two would meet. Kirby said he had nothing to say about the president’s schedule.

KirbyNational Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby holds a daily briefing on March 5, 2024 at the White House alongside Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary. Credit: Oliver Contreras/White House.
‘Sleight-of-hand’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday accusing him and his administration of engaging in “sleight-of-hand” in response to the White House’s insistence that only one arms delivery to Israel has been paused.

The senator repeated Hagerty’s charge that Washington is slow-rolling the munitions.

“As you are aware, the Arms Export Control Act requires the administration to notify Congress before sending weapons to a foreign country,” Cotton wrote. “Your administration has manipulated this requirement by withholding this formal notification to Congress of approved weapons sales, including F-15s, tactical vehicles, 120-mm mortars, 120-mm tank rounds, joint direct attack munitions and small diameter bombs.”

“Your administration can then claim that the weapons are ‘in process’ while never delivering them,” he wrote. “You’re playing politics with the nation’s honor and our ally’s security.”

 

“Worse still, your administration lacks the honesty to communicate its true policy to the American people, instead preferring to hide behind weasel words and bureaucratic process,” he added.

JNS sought comment from the National Security Council of the White House about the allegations that the administration had taken more than 72 hours to deliver formal notification to Congress of Israeli munitions deliveries after their approval by the relevant House and Senate committees.

Netanyahu said on Thursday that he understands the potential cost of his statements.

“I am willing to absorb personal attacks if that is what it takes for Israel to get the arms and ammunition it needs in its war for survival,” the Israeli prime minister said.

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