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Utah senators call pause in arms supply to Israel ‘reprehensible’, ‘hesitant’

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Republican senators have condemned a decision by the Biden administration to pause shipments of certain weapons to Israel as his forces are on the outskirts of the densely populated city of Rafah.

The Biden administration announced the pause on 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs last week, as President Joe Biden said the U.S. would stop sending assault weapons if Israel moves into Rafah, where many Palestinians have been displaced hit by previous fighting in more than six months of conflict have fled.

Although the shipment of bombs — estimated to be worth “tens of millions” of dollars, according to congressional aides — has been suspended, billions of dollars worth of weapons are still in transit from the US.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah issued a statement on social media after the pause was announced.

“We stand with our allies, we have no doubt about it,” the senator said. “Biden’s restraint on Israeli weapons is bad policy and sends a terrible message to Israel, our allies and the world.”

The state’s senior senator, Mike Lee, was forceful in his criticism of the policy over the weekend, telling Fox News that the decision could impact the president’s re-election chances.

“This is simply reprehensible,” he said on Sunday. “You take a group of people who have been victimized – remember, thousands of people have been killed, innocent people have been killed in Israel; men, women, children, even babies, and they are the victims – now they are being victimized again by, of all people, the United States of America.”

Lee was referring to the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks in Israel, in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and hundreds taken hostage. According to Gaza health officials, nearly 35,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the ensuing war in the Gaza Strip.

Lee said he opposed the recent tranche of war aid approved by Congress for Ukraine and Israel because he was “concerned that the aid would not actually reach Israel.”

“Well, look, a lot of it doesn’t go to Israel, or at least it’s dependent on Israel not being able to defend itself,” he said. “This is inexcusable, and I really don’t know how Joe Biden can survive this. I think this is another indication that it is time for change in the White House.”

He called Biden’s decision a “blunder,” saying it “demonstrates to the American people and to people around the world that we are flawed, that we are inadequate, that we have ineffective, worthless leadership in the White House.” come to an end. And that, I think, will happen when Americans go to the polls in November.”

Romney and Lee, both Republicans, staunchly defended themselves against American support for Israel during the war with Hamas.

The White House said Friday that Israel’s use of U.S. weapons in the war likely violates international humanitarian law, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the U.S. could withhold further military aid if Israel conducts a “major military operation against Rafah,” the White House said. the New York Times.