Sen. Cotton Accuses Biden Administration of Slow-Walking Arms to Israel

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, pool

Earlier this week, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Biden administration of withholding weapons intended for Israel. Here's the short video in which he made this claim.


Asked about it during a White House press briefing Karine Jean-Pierre said the White House didn't know what he was talking about.

But behind the scenes, the Biden administration was reportedly furious. Axios reported Tuesday that they canceled a meeting with Israel scheduled for today.

The White House canceled a high-level U.S.-Israel meeting on Iran that was scheduled for Thursday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video on Tuesday claiming the U.S. was withholding military aid, two U.S. officials tell Axios.

President Biden's top advisers were enraged by the video — a message U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein delivered personally to Netanyahu in a meeting hours after it was published, two U.S. and Israeli sources say. Then the White House decided to go a step farther by canceling Thursday's meeting.

"This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts," a U.S. official said.


Other outlets heard the same story. Fox News apparently had its own source that confirmed it. But after word of the cancelation leaked the Biden administration appears to have scrambled and is now denying everything.

...the White House later issued a firm denial, saying that the meeting that Axios described as canceled had merely been moved due to a scheduling conflict.

“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,” a White House official told The Times of Israel.

Today, Sen. Tom Cotton weighed in with a letter to President Biden which accuses the administration of using "bureaucratic sleight-of-hand" to slow walk weapons deliveries to Israel. He alleges this was done after a group of progressive Democrats in congress urged him to stop expediting weapons deliveries to Israel sometime in January. The letter from Sen. Cotton was published by the Free Beacon:

Dear President Biden:

I write regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public statement this week that your administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition from Israel and hampering its war effort against Hamas—a serious accusation from a trusted U.S. ally. 

Your administration responded by claiming that aid is flowing normally, with one official asserting, “We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about.” You claim that the only hold or delay is on the 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs you refused to deliver earlier this year. But you’re deliberately misleading the American people and insulting a key ally. 

Your administration is engaged in bureaucratic sleight-of-hand to withhold this crucial aid to Israel during a shooting war. As you are aware, the Arms Export Control Act requires the administration to notify Congress before sending weapons to a foreign country. Your administration has manipulated this requirement by withholding this formal notification to Congress of approved weapons sales, including F-15s, tactical vehicles, 120-mm mortars, 120mm tank rounds, joint direct attack munitions, and small diameter bombs. Your administration can then claim that the weapons are “in process” while never delivering them.

But the law also includes an exception for “when emergencies exist,” which allows you to waive the requirement for congressional review and expedite weapons sales. Your administration is obviously aware of this exception since you invoked it just last year. Yet, it appears that you stopped acknowledging the emergency in Israel after receiving a letter from nearly twenty congressional Democrats in January, urging you to end expedited weapons sales to Israel. Though your administration reportedly released a ship carrying at least some of these arms on Wednesday, that modest step doesn’t cure the damage done by the delay.

You’re playing politics with the nation’s honor and our ally’s security. 


There's a bit more which you can read at the link above. The letter closes with a series of questions about delays and deliveries which Sen. Cotton says he wants answered by July 1.

We'll have to wait and see if the White House continues to deny everything. My guess is they will because they've already doubled down on this so it's too late to back away from those denials now without raising a lot of other questions about what they've been doing. 

f you go back to that Axios story, they had two sources for the claim that the meeting was canceled to send a message. So at a bare minimum the White House is lying about that.

It sure looks like they got caught using "bureaucratic sleight-of-hand," probably to pressure Netanyahu into an agreement with Hamas. Netanyahu spoiled their arm-twisting by making the whole thing public. The White House then claimed they had no idea what he meant but also canceled a planned meeting to show him who was boss. When word of that leaked, they claimed the meeting was just rescheduled, but the simplest explanation is that the White House has been lying all along.

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