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U.S. strongly denies Netanyahu's claim weapons to Israel have been blocked

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, pictured here in May, said Tuesday that the Biden administration does not know what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking about when he said they are blocking weapons to Israel. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, pictured here in May, said Tuesday that the Biden administration does not know what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking about when he said they are blocking weapons to Israel. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asserting that the United States is blocking shipments of weapons to Israel -- an assertion the Biden administration rejects, stating it is committed to the Middle East nation's defense.

The Israeli leader on Tuesday issued a 50-second, English-language recorded statement recounting a conversation he had with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his recent visit to the Middle Eastern country.

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In the recording, Netanyahu claimed he told Blinken that it is "inconceivable" that the Biden administration "has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel."

The assertion has seemingly blindsided the Biden administration, leaving its spokespeople to flatly and firmly deny the assertion.

"We genuinely do not know what he's talking about," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday during a regular press conference. "We just don't."

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The United States has been supplying Israel with billions of dollars in weaponry amid its war against Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza, which began Oct. 7.

President Joe Biden made a grand display of support for Israel early in the conflict, but there have since been growing tensions between the two leaders. Biden has increasingly been publicly critical with Netanyahu over the war's ballooning Palestinian death toll and lack of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza.

In May, the administration blocked a single shipment of 2,000-pound, unguided bombs to Israel over concerns over their potential use in a now ongoing campaign in the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the time defended the pause, stating they are not the best weaponry to be used in dense city warfare.

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Jean-Pierre said they are continuing to discuss the release of this paused shipment with Israel but there are no other pauses or holds in place.

"Everything else is moving in due process," she said.

During a press conference held shortly after Netanyahu's statement was published, Blinken told reporters that the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs is the only one under review and "everything else is moving as it normally would move."

He did not respond to questions concerning Netanyahu's description of their conversation, but said Biden is committed to ensuring Israel has what it needs to defend itself.

"Israel is facing a multiplicity of threats and challenges," he said, and a big part of ensuring it can defend itself from those threats is to see that it has "a strong deterrent, which is the best way to avoid more conflict, to avoid more war, to avoid what we're already seeing in Gaza spreading [to] other areas, to other fronts."

"That's been one of our objectives from day one," he said.

He added that many systems heading to Israel could take up to years to get there, stating "it takes a long time to move these things."

"That is the nature of the way this works," he said.

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At the Department of Defense, Pentagon press secretary Gen. Maj. Pat Ryder gave comments that essentially mirrored those of Blinken and his White House counterpart -- there is only one shipment on hold and the administration is committed to staunchly supporting Israel's defense, he said.

"Since Hamas' vicious attack on Oct. 7, we've rushed billions of dollars of security assistance to Israel to enable them to defend themselves and we're going to continue to provide them with the security assistance they need again for defense," he said during the press conference.

No decision has been made on the paused shipment and the Biden administration "has been very clear with the Israelis about the steps that they must take to be effective in this fight," he added.

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