U.S. officials: No change in procedure for arming Israel

(JTA) — U.S. officials denied reports of a change in the procedure through which their government supplies arms to Israel.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “Let me be clear: There has been no change in policy, period.” But she also said that,  “Given the crisis in Gaza, it is natural that agencies take additional care with deliveries as part of an inter-agency process.”

Harf’s statements were in reply to questions based on a reported that appeared earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, which said that the White House is delaying the completion of a sale of Hellfire missiles to Israel and that the Obama administration has made even routine arms transfers subject to White House and State Department approval.

Speaking to reporters at a U.S. Department of Defense press briefing on Thursday, Rear Adm. John Kirby said: “There is a normal process for the provision to a foreign military sales program of arms and ammunition to Israel. And the resupply that was done a couple of weeks ago was under that process.”

But he added that, “It makes sense for us to continually assess and review the process through which those foreign military sales are provided.”

The uncertainty regarding arms transfers comes amid reports of tense relations between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Friday, Netanyahu convened the Israeli cabinet for a second time in 24 hours to discuss ongoing Egyptian-brokered negotiations between Hamas and Israel on ending the fighting in Gaza.

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