Biden envoy told Netanyahu his comments about US-supplied weapons were ‘unproductive’ and ‘completely untrue’

US envoy Amos Hochstein told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting on Tuesday in Israel that his public comments this week that the US is “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel” were “unproductive” and “more importantly, completely untrue,” a senior US official told CNN.

In that same meeting, US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew also reiterated to Netanyahu that his comments were not correct, walking through all of the arms the US has transferred to Israel in recent months, according to two senior US officials. A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Israel confirmed that Lew spoke with Netanyahu on Tuesday. The spokesperson reiterated that “with the exception of ongoing discussion regarding large diameter munitions, other items are either delivered or in the process of being delivered, or in the normal review process.”

Axios first reported on the exchange between Hochstein and Netanyahu.

The meeting reflected the administration’s mounting frustration with the Israeli leader’s comments. Another senior administration official told CNN that the public statement from the Israeli prime minister was “perplexing” and “wrong.”

This is not the first time Netanyahu has publicly lambasted the Biden administration in the course of the Israel-Hamas war, but this week’s public dispute comes as the stakes around the war in Gaza and a potential further conflict between Israel and Hezbollah remain incredibly high. Both the Israeli prime minister and the President Joe Biden are facing growing political pressure at home over their handling of the war.

Hochstein’s comments to Netanyahu weren’t the first time US officials have pushed back in private against public comments made by Netanyahu, but some US officials would like the Biden administration to go further, an administration official said.

That frustration appears to have led to the US postponing one meeting of the US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group (SDG) initially slated for Thursday, where Iran was one of the agenda items, according to a senior administration official. But that official and a White House official disputed that the meeting was moved in response to comments made by Netanyahu and stressed that it had never been firmed up. Meetings between US and Israeli officials this week,including on Wednesday, are set to continue, according to the first official, and the Thursday meeting in question is likely to be rescheduled – possibly for as early as next week

Still, a different senior US official insisted that the Thursday meeting was taken off the schedule to send a message to Netanyahu, similar to how the Israeli leader canceled a visit to the US in March by a delegation in protest at a US abstention on a key UN vote, the official said.

“We have been working to find a time to schedule the next SDG that accounts for the travel and availability of principals, but have not yet fully finalized the details so nothing has been cancelled,” a White House official told CNN. “In the meantime, meetings with Israeli officials are being held throughout the week at expert and senior levels on a range of topics. As we said in the briefing yesterday, we have no idea what the Prime Minister is talking about, but that’s not a reason for rescheduling a meeting.”

Netanyahu publicly claimed the Biden administration was “withholding weapons” in a video posted to X on Tuesday, claiming that Secretary of State Antony Blinken “assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks.”

The top US diplomat refused to discuss his conversation with Netanyahu last week, saying he was “not going to talk about what we said in diplomatic conversations.”

“I can just say, again, that we have a commitment to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against a whole variety of threats,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. He also confirmed that one shipment of heavy bombs remains on hold.

“We continue to move these different cases through our system on regular order,” Blinken said, noting that “it takes a long time to move these things, and a number of the things that are going to Israel won’t get there for years.”

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