US-Israel Talks in Washington Overshadowed by Dispute Over Arms Transfers

By Yoni Weiss

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla, Pool)

Top US officials hosted their Israeli counterparts for meetings in Washington on Thursday, as concern in the Biden administration reportedly mounted over the potential opening of a full-blown northern front in the Gaza war.

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer’s meetings with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were overshadowed by the ongoing public spat between the two governments. This dispute was sparked by a Tuesday video statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which he criticized what he described as “inconceivable bottlenecks” imposed by the Biden administration on the transfer of weapons and munitions to Israel.

The White House denied the charge on Tuesday, saying it had withheld only one shipment while all others continued. Shortly before Hanegbi and Dermer arrived at the White House on Thursday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby expressed the administration’s frustration, calling the claim “vexing and disappointing as much as it was incorrect.”

The White House did not issue a readout of the meeting between Netanyahu’s top aides and Sullivan. A State Department readout of their meeting with Blinken reiterated long-held US positions on the Israel-Hamas war.

Blinken “reiterated the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” the State Department readout said, adding that the trio discussed ongoing talks to secure a hostage deal and ceasefire agreement. These negotiations have stalled since Hamas responded to Israel’s latest proposal with a long list of amendments. The US has found some changes workable, while others are not. Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been in talks with Hamas to convince the group to reduce its demands.

The top US diplomat “emphasized the need to take additional steps to surge humanitarian aid into Gaza and plan for post-conflict governance, security, and reconstruction,” the US readout said.

Regarding post-war planning, Netanyahu has resisted US requests to advance the issue, arguing it is futile since no groups will take over Gaza’s management while Hamas remains. The US and Israeli security establishment disagree, arguing that Hamas will retain its strength unless a more moderate alternative is empowered.

Blinken “also underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation in Lebanon and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes,” the US readout said.

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