Saturday, May 18, 2024

Senators question Biden’s ‘ironclad’ commitment, munitions withholding

President Joe Biden’s call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 28 included an “ironclad” commitment to the staunch U.S. ally in in the Mideast.

Withholding “critical ammunition” doesn’t square up, and U.S. Sens. Ted Budd of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa are asking for his answers to three questions. Their letter to Biden, dated Monday, gives the 81-year-old Democrat seeking reelection two weeks to answer.

“We are shocked that your administration has reportedly decided to withhold critical ammunition to Israel,” the Republican senators wrote. “You promised your commitment to Israel was ironclad. Pausing much-needed military support to our closest Middle Eastern ally signals otherwise.”

Two precision bombs were not shipped to Israel to send a political message from the Biden administration, reports say. In full context, the weapons were not sent yet and the inaction was being described as the action of not shipping.

In a Wednesday television interview, the president said he was not sending weapons that could be used to assault Rafah, the last significant Hamas stronghold in Gaza. He voiced commitment to Israel.

The Monday letter referred to his April 28 call with Netanyahu. The White House readout for that said in part, “The President reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security following the successful defense against Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack earlier this month.”

Budd and Ernst asked the president which ammunition was withheld, why, if any was withheld that had been approved by Congress, and if there are future withholdings coming. Second, the senators want explanation for how withholding “security assistance from Israel” is consistent with an April 23 promise to be sure Israel has what it needs to defend against Iran and terrorists supported by the Iranians.

And third, Biden is asked why his administration didn’t notify Congress about withholding assistance to Israel.

The authors say, “We must give Israel the arms it needs to fight the Hamas terrorists that continue to hold Americans hostage.”

Ernst said the president is talking “out of both sides of his mouth” and she will “hold him accountable.”

“President Biden has broken his ‘ironclad’ commitment,” she said. “There should be no wavering in U.S. support for Israel as they defend their right to exist and fight to bring Hamas-held hostages home.”