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arms argument

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew cites ‘supply issues’ behind pace of weapons transfers to Israel

At the Herzliya Conference, Lew also pressed Netanyahu to advance a postwar plan for Gaza

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew gives a speech as relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, take part in a rally calling for their release and marking their nearly 100 days of captivity, in Tel Aviv on January 13, 2024.

The initial rate at which the U.S. delivered weapons to Israel after Oct. 7 “isn’t physically sustainable because you start running into supply issues,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew said on Monday.

“The U.S. system is moving quickly still,” Lew said, but “perhaps not at the speed of October 8.”

In his speech at the two-day Herzliya Conference at Reichman University, Lew emphasized that the Biden administration is supporting Israel in its conflict with Hamas. His remarks came on the heels of the release of a video by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on President Joe Biden to expedite arms shipments as Israel’s war in Gaza enters its ninth month. “We firmly support Israel and will continue to do so,” Lew said. “We’ve been transparent with Israel about the current status and future steps.”

Lew added, “The critical issue is having a vision for Gaza’s future … It’s essential to avoid reverting to previous conditions.” Among those issues, Lew said, was “a pathway toward a better future” for the Palestinians. Netanyahu has largely declined discussions about postwar plans for Gaza, and has consistently rejected the prospect of a future Palestinian state.

Philip Gordon, national security advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris, also addressed the conference on Monday, urging Israel to accept the terms of the hostage deal laid out by Biden last month. The comment was a response to Netanyahu’s statement on Sunday that he planned to accept only a “partial” deal and that the war would continue until “total victory” is achieved in Gaza. On Monday, however, Netanyahu told the Knesset that his government is “committed to the Israeli [cease-fire] proposal welcomed by President Biden. Our position has not changed.” 

“A rejection of this deal would not bring about some undefined notion of ‘total victory,’” Gordon said, “it would lead to endless conflict, draining Israel’s resources, contributing to its isolation on the world stage and preventing the hostages from being reunited with their families. Implementation of the deal would bring the hostages home and open up the pathway for the more hopeful way forward.”

Dozens of speakers including Yair Lapid, Israel’s opposition leader; Rachel Goldberg-Polin, the mother of 23-year-old Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who has been held by Hamas since Oct. 7; and Ronald Liebowitz, president of Brandeis University, are slated to take to the conference stage in panels and keynote addresses on Tuesday.  

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