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Senior Israeli officials reportedly warn Netanyahu against public criticism of Biden administration

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, May 31, 2023 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s video statement on Tuesday, in which he described the U.S. withholding weapons and ammunition from Israel as “inconceivable,” was reportedly released despite warnings from ministers advising against the message.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported Wednesday that Netanyahu met with National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and other Israeli officials before he released the video.

Dermer approved the statement, but reportedly asked the prime minister to wait until after he and Hanegbi finished their meeting at the White House on Thursday regarding the Iranian threat. The Biden administration canceled the meeting following Netanyahu's video.

Both Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi were reportedly against making any statement public, to avoid providing Hamas and Hezbollah with further evidence of a rift between the allies.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation,” Netanyahu said in the video.

“I said I deeply appreciated the support the U.S. has given Israel from the beginning of the war, but I also said something else. I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel."

“Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case."

The prime minister continued: “During World War II, Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job.’ And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster,” Netanyahu added, referring to the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Israel and the U.S. have typically maintained a publicly close diplomatic relationship, with disagreements kept behind closed doors. Netanyahu, who lived in America for many years, often describes the U.S. as Israel’s closest ally, as he reiterated in his video statement.

Relations with the Biden administration have been strained over the situation in Gaza, particularly over IDF operations in Rafah, as the U.S. has been pushing hard for a ceasefire agreement.

On June 1, Netanyahu published a rare statement during the Jewish Sabbath, in response to Biden's three-stage proposal for a ceasefire and hostage release deal, saying: “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas's military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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