State Department: Stopping Missiles Shipment 'Not Unusual'
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Thursday disputed an article in the Wall Street Journal which revealed that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration stopped a shipment of missiles to Israel late last month and tightened weapons shipment procedures to Israel.
According to AFP, while Harf acknowledged that the administration was looking carefully at arms shipments to Israel, she said the process was "by no means unusual."
"Given the crisis in Gaza, it's natural that agencies take additional care to review deliveries," she was quoted as having told reporters.
"The United States has an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. No country has done more to support their security than the United States," she stressed.
Harf declined to discuss specific arms shipments but noted that Obama last week signed a bill authorizing another $225 million for Iron Dome, the missile defense system that has sharply curtailed Israeli casualties in the latest conflict.
Obama has been at odds with Israel over the defensive operation in Gaza, making various attempts to press Israel into accepting a truce with the adamant terrorist organization of Hamas. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly responded to the pressure by telling the administration "not to ever second guess me again," after Hamas committed one of its many ceasefire violations.
Earlier on Thursday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) chided Netanyahu for allowing the relationship with Israel's ally to deteriorate.
"The relations with the United States are a strategic asset. Harming these relations could cause a deterioration that will wind up harming Israel's security,” Livni told Channel 2 News, in what sounded like criticism of the way Netanyahu and his bureau have handled the relationship with the White House.
"Both before the military operation and after it, some of the ministers and MKs spoke in a scandalous way about the U.S.,” she opined. “We need to understand that the relationship with the U.S. is the basis for Israel's security needs. Whoever reacts and says 'we rely on ourselves alone' does not know what he is talking about, and does not understand Israel's security needs.”
Lapid said that the tension with the U.S. is “a worrisome trend that we must not allow to continue. Relations with the U.S. are a strategic asset that must not be harmed. Just last week, I spoke to Secretary of State Kerry, and to Senator Harry Reid, Head of the Democratic majority, to thank them for the emergency assistance they gave Israel for Iron Dome. Sometimes, one needs to know how to simply say thank you, and make sure that the relations with the U.S. continue to be this strong friendship, which is so important to the state of Israel.”