Diplomatic Tensions Escalate as White House Cancels U.S.-Israel Meeting

By Yoni Weiss

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In an escalating diplomatic rift, the White House has canceled a high-level U.S.-Israel meeting on Iran that was scheduled for Thursday, according to a report by Axios. This move comes in response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s video claiming the U.S. was withholding military aid, which enraged President Joe Biden’s top advisers.

As Axios reported, a U.S. official stated, “This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts.” An Israeli official acknowledged the gravity of the situation, saying, “The Americans are fuming. Bibi’s video made a lot of damage,” using Netanyahu’s nickname.

In the video, Netanyahu said, in English, that it was “inconceivable” to have the U.S. withhold weapons and ammunition over the past few months, considering Israel’s status as America’s closest ally and its fight against Iran and other common adversaries. However, as Axios noted, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre publicly expressed bafflement, stating, “We genuinely do not know what he is talking about,” and clarifying that only one weapons shipment had been paused, while billions of dollars of weapons had flowed unimpeded.

According to Axios, U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein, who was already scheduled to meet Netanyahu, personally conveyed the administration’s anger and informed the Prime Minister that his accusations were inaccurate and out of line. Subsequently, Biden’s top advisers decided to cancel the strategic dialogue on Iran, which was to involve extensive meetings with officials from various U.S. agencies and their Israeli counterparts.

Reportedly, relations between Biden and Netanyahu’s teams are now more strained than at any point since the war in Gaza began on Oct. 7. However, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will still meet his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s visit is scheduled for early next week.

Axios highlights that this is the second time a meeting of the Iran strategic dialogue has been canceled at the last minute, recounting that in March, it was Netanyahu who pulled the plug after the U.S. declined to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution that included a reference to a ceasefire in Gaza.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!