Netanyahu says Blinken assured him US will cancel limits on weapons supplies

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had assured him that the Biden administration was working to cancel restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel.

Netanyahu in a statement said that when he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, he expressed appreciation for the support the United States has given Israel since the start of the war against the Palestinian group Hamas in October. But he also said it was “inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.”

Blinken, Netanyahu said, assured that the administration was working “day and night” to remove such bottlenecks.

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“I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case,” Netanyahu said. “Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster.”

Blinken, asked at a news conference in Washington about Netanyahu’s remarks, declined to say whether he had given the Israeli leader such assurances but said US administration was still reviewing one shipment of large bombs for Israel over concerns about their use in densely populated areas.

He said other weapons shipments were moving as usual, citing security threats Israel faces beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran, and that President Joe Biden has been clear he would do everything he can to ensure Israel has what it needs to effectively defend itself.

“We, as you know, are continuing to review one shipment that President Biden has talked about with regard to 2000-pound bombs because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area, like Rafah. That remains under review,” Blinken said.

“But everything else is moving as it normally would move, and again with the perspective of making sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against this multiplicity of challenges.”

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Biden last month warned Israel that the US would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces make a major invasion of Rafah, a refugee-packed city in southern Gaza.

Days later, Israeli forces began an offensive in Rafah, saying Hamas militants were hiding there and reiterating that eliminating Hamas and bringing back hostages were Israel’s main goals.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that two key Democrats in the US Congress have agreed to support a major arms sale to Israel that includes 50 F-15 fighter jets worth more than $18 billion.

Representative Gregory Meeks and Senator Ben Cardin, it said, have signed off on the deal under heavy pressure from the Biden administration after the two lawmakers had for months held up the sale.

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