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Blinken assures Netanyahu US will lift restrictions on arms transfers to Israel

June 18, 2024 at 1:01 pm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at State Department in Washington DC, United States on 08 March 2024 [Murat Gök/Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly assured Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States will soon lift all restrictions on arms transfers to Israel. An unsourced report, published yesterday by Channel 12 and the German daily Bild, claimed that during their meeting last week in Jerusalem, the Israeli prime minister asked for all US arms shipments to be returned to the levels seen immediately after 7 October.

Netanyahu apparently also expressed concerns that, unlike the significant military aid provided by the US at the beginning of the war, recent US military support has practically stopped. According to the Times of Israel, he argued that this reduction in aid benefits Iran and its regional proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, prolongs the conflict, and increases the risk of the war spreading to new fronts.

Following Blinken’s pledge, Netanyahu instructed Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to use their upcoming meetings with American officials in Washington to ensure that the arms transfers are fully restored.

Last month, US President Joe Biden told CNN that he had made it clear to Netanyahu that “if [the Israelis] go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem.”

Rafah has been a designated “safe zone” where some 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge. More than one million were forcibly displaced from their homes from other areas of the Palestinian enclave.

The US administration has, however, denied that Israel has increased its air and artillery strikes on Rafah sufficiently to warrant the cessation of weapons transfers, in spite of the rising number of civilians killed in the city and surrounding areas.

Biden has come under increasing pressure from members of his own Democratic party over his unstinting support of Israel in the face of its eight-month-old assault on Gaza that has killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, wounded at least 80,000 more and displaced almost the whole 2.3 million population.

READ: Hamas slams Israel for burning Rafah crossing facilities