New Tensions between White House, Israeli PM

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said 'no other country is doing more' to help Israel defend itself. SAUL LOEB / AFP/File
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said 'no other country is doing more' to help Israel defend itself. SAUL LOEB / AFP/File
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New Tensions between White House, Israeli PM

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said 'no other country is doing more' to help Israel defend itself. SAUL LOEB / AFP/File
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said 'no other country is doing more' to help Israel defend itself. SAUL LOEB / AFP/File

New tensions emerged this week between President Joe Biden's administration and Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli premier's criticism of US weapons deliveries -- comments the White House described Thursday as "vexing" and "disappointing."
The issue began when Netanyahu claimed in a video posted on social media earlier this week that the US administration -- Israel's main military backer -- has been "withholding weapons and ammunitions" from his country in recent months, AFP reported.
"Those comments were deeply disappointing and certainly vexing to us, given the amount of support that we have and will continue to provide," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists.
"No other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas and, quite frankly, other threats that they're facing in the region," Kirby said.
The previous day, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that "we genuinely do not know what he's talking about."
With the exception of "one particular shipment of munitions," Jean-Pierre said "there are no other pauses. None."
She was referring to a shipment of 2,000 pound bombs that Washington has said is under review because of concerns about their use in densely populated areas.
Biden-Netanyahu tensions
But Netanyahu appeared to double down later on Thursday, saying in a statement that he is "prepared to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives the ammunition from the US that it needs in the war for its existence."
The spat is not the first between the head of the Israeli government and Biden's administration since the start of the Gaza war, which began with an unprecedented Hamas attack in October.
Biden previously stated his strong opposition to a major Israeli operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million civilians were located, and threatened to stop certain arms deliveries if his warning was not heeded.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned Israel against escalating tensions in Lebanon as fears of a wider regional war grew with Hezbollah militants firing dozens of rockets into northern Israel.
During a meeting with top Israeli officials in Washington, Blinken "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 State Department said in a statement.
The Gaza war is a particularly thorny issue for 81-year-old Biden, who is seeking a second term in office this year.
The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the ever-rising death toll has led to sharp criticism of the president from the progressive wing of his party -- pressure Biden has had to balance with a long-standing US policy of backing Israel.
The latest round of bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas was triggered by an unprecedented October 7 attack by Palestinian militants on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.
Israel's retaliatory offensive in Gaza has killed at least 37,431 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.