Netanyahu Hopes US Weapon Shipment Delays ‘Resolved’ Soon; Report, Senators Say Biden Admin No Longer Fast-tracking Arms to Israel

The US is reportedly slowing down weapons shipments to Israel. US President Biden and Israeli PM Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (Israeli GPO).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed “hope” that the United States will “resolve” issues involving weapons shipments to the Jewish State soon, but a new report and claims from a US Senator indicate that those weapons are no longer being fast-tracked on an emergency basis. After referencing four months of bottlenecks in arms deliveries from the US, Netanyahu told Sunday’s cabinet meeting, “In light of what I have heard over the past 24 hours, I hope and believe that this issue will be resolved in the near future.”

Netanyahu, whose comments were translated into English in an Israeli press release, said he “greatly” appreciates the defensive and offensive support from the US but noted that four months ago there was a “dramatic decrease” in US weapons deliveries. This followed a video published by Israel last week of Netanyahu making similar accusations in which he said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave assurances the Administration is “working day and night to remove these bottlenecks.”

The Biden Administration has since repeatedly denied Netanyahu’s claims that weapons have been generally withheld from Israel. However, The Times of Israel reported on Sunday that the Biden Administration has in fact ended emergency procedures that sped up the process of providing Israel with weapons. Per the report, which cited an American official familiar with the situation, this is due to a reduction in the intensity of Israel’s Gaza campaign and concerns Israel could launch a preemptive campaign against Hezbollah, which might expand the regional conflict into a full regional war. That rationale runs counter to the other messages sent by the US backing Israel as the Jewish State already faces regular attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah, and terrorists in Yemen and Iraq, as well as ongoing threats from Iran.

The article cited a separate unsourced report by Channel 12 in Israel that said weapons shipments from the US have been halved in recent months compared to the beginning stage of the war.

The Times of Israel report implies validity to the claims of US Senator Tom Cotton, who on Thursday published to his office’s website a strong rebuke of the Biden Administration’s approach to Israel. Cotton, a member of the Republican party that rivals President Joe Biden’s Democrats, in a letter to President Biden accused the Administration of using “bureaucratic sleight of hand” to delay arms deliveries for political reasons.

Referencing a procedural requirement to provide notice to Congress before shipping weapons to a foreign nation, Cotton said that the law includes an emergency exception to waive the Congressional review and expedite the sale of weapons. The Senator’s letter, published on his website, says that while the Biden Administration had previously invoked the emergency clause for Israel, it “appears that you stopped acknowledging the emergency in Israel after receiving a letter” from a select number of Congressional Democrats in January calling to cease expedited weapons sales to Israel.

As a result of the non-emergency approach, Cotton said the Biden Administration “can then claim that the weapons are ‘in process’ while never delivering them.”

National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby, in comments on Thursday published to the White House website, rejected Netanyahu’s claims the US is withholding weapons and said the accusations were “perplexing” and “certainly vexing.” He later referenced a “pause” only in delivering certain bombs to Israel, but Cotton countered similar Administration claims by listing out a range of weapons to Israel that had been delayed, including tactical vehicles, mortars, tank rounds, and bombs.

Cotton noted that a ship carrying “at least some of these arms” was reportedly released for delivery on Wednesday, but “that modest step doesn’t cure the damage done by the delay.” Wrote Cotton, “You’re playing politics with the nation’s honor and our ally’s security.”

Cotton wasn’t the only US Senator making this accusation. Senator Bill Hagerty, also a Republican, took it a step further and said the Biden Administration is intentionally delaying the notice to Congress of weapons shipments to Israel. In comments posted to X (formerly Twitter) in a series of posts on Wednesday, Hagerty said Netanyahu is “telling the truth.” He said even after Senate and House foreign affairs committees provided informal clearance of the sales of weapons, the Biden Administration has “refused to send Congress **formal** notifications to finalize a host of arms sales to Israel.” He later posted, “The norm is for the Executive Branch to submit formal notifications to Congress roughly 48-72 hours after committees informally cleared proposed arms sales. But the Biden Admin is violating this norm amid Israel’s multi-front war.”

The US Senators’ criticism of the Biden Administration’s handling of Israeli weapons follows Netanyahu’s public complaints about weapons delays, comments the Israeli leader said on Sunday came after repeated private appeals to the US leadership.

“For long weeks, we turned to our American friends and requested that the shipments be expedited. We did this time and again. We did so at the highest levels, and at all levels, and I want to emphasize—we did so behind closed doors. We received all sorts of explanations, but one thing we did not receive; the basic situation did not change. Certain items arrived sporadically but the munitions at large remained behind,” said Netanyahu.

He said last week’s video was done “out of years of experience and the knowledge that this step was vital to opening the bottleneck.”

While Netanyahu has doubled-down on his accusation the Biden Administration had delayed weapons deliveries, Israel and the US remain close allies. That was reiterated on Friday, when four US Senators—all Republicans—published support for the proposed Maintaining Our Ironclad Commitment to Israel’s Security Act. The legislation would require the President to give Congress more than two weeks’ notice of actions to “pause, suspend, delay, or abrogate the delivery of defense articles and services to Israel,” according to a summary of the bill posted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website.

The legislation would also require the Administration to provide a “policy justification” for those delays or suspensions and would “express a sense of Congress that all previously negotiated and approved arms sales to Israel should proceed and all pauses should be lifted.”

Senator Tim Scott, one of the bill’s sponsors, was quoted in the press statement as saying, “Israel has every right to defend itself, and we should not be standing in their way. This administration clearly needs to ensure that the will of Congress to support our greatest ally in the Middle East is not being undermined.

“Standing with Israel and ensuring they succeed in their effort to eliminate the terrorist threat posed by Hamas is the only path forward.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 23, 2024)

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