WASHINGTON: The White House expressed deep disappointment over criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the United States on Thursday amid tensions between the two allies over Israel’s aggression in Gaza.

The White House response came as national security adviser Jake Sullivan and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned meetings with Netanyahu’s two top aides to discuss Gaza.

Netanyahu on Tuesday issued an English-language video in which he said Blinken had assured him that the Biden administration was working to lift restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel, an exchange the top U.S. diplomat declined to confirm.

In a rare account of normally private diplomatic conversations, Netanyahu also said he told Blinken that it was “inconceivable” that in the past few months Washington was withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby addressed the comments in a briefing with reporters, saying the U.S. had directly expressed displeasure to Israel.

Netanyahu says Israel needs US ammunition in ‘war for its existence’

“I think we’ve made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts through various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made,” Kirby said.

“The idea that we had somehow stopped helping Israel with their self-defense needs is absolutely not accurate,” he said.

Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, will speak with Sullivan as a larger, more formal “strategic dialogue” meeting was being rescheduled, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Blinken will meet with the Israelis at 3 p.m., according to a senior State Department official.

Blinken said weapons shipments - with the exception of one with large bombs - were moving as usual given Israel faced security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran. He declined to comment on his private exchange with Netanyahu during a news conference on Tuesday.

The United States in May paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in densely populated areas but Israel was still due to get billions of dollars worth of U.S. weaponry.

Scrutiny on Israel’s conduct in its military aggression in Gaza has increased as the Palestinian death toll from the war has soared to above 37,000, according to health officials in the enclave and reduced Gaza to a wasteland.

Biden in April warned Israel that the U.S. would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces make a major invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is the last refuge for many displaced by the war.


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