POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Biden administration pauses ammunition shipment to Israel

May 6, 2024, 5:30 AM | Updated: 2:50 pm

President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Build...

President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 12, in Washington, DC. The Biden administration paused a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel, according to a source familiar with the matter, who did not disclose why the decision was made. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/File via CNN Newsource)

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/File via CNN Newsource)

Originally Published: 05 MAY 24 15:31 ET
Updated: 05 MAY 24 17:32 ET

(CNN) — The Biden administration paused a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel, according to a source familiar with the matter, who did not disclose why the decision was made. The hold is not connected to a potential Israeli operation in Rafah and doesn’t affect other shipments moving forward, the source said.

Asked about the paused shipment, a National Security Council spokesperson cited ongoing security assistance to Israel.

“The United States has surged billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel since the October 7 attacks, passed the largest ever supplemental appropriation for emergency assistance to Israel, led an unprecedented coalition to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, and will continue to do what is necessary to ensure Israel can defend itself from the threats it faces,” the spokesperson said.

Axios first reported the paused ammunition shipment.

US officials have maintained that there is no change in policy toward Israel. Last month, Biden signed a foreign aid bill that included $26 billion for the Israel-Hamas conflict — including $15 billion in Israeli military aid, $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza and $2.4 billion for regional US military operations.

But US officials remain concerned about a potential Israeli operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have been sheltering.

The United States was involved in intensive negotiations over a ceasefire and hostage deal in the Israel-Hamas war.

Over the weekend, Israel and Hamas have remained locked in a back and forth over who to blame for stalled ceasefire talks even after the latest round of negotiations in Cairo created some cause for optimism. Both sides blamed the other for extreme views, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking issue with Hamas’ demand that Israel withdraw from Gaza.

CIA Director Bill Burns, who had been in Cairo for the ceasefire negotiations over the weekend, also went to Doha to meet with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. He will remain in Doha on Monday, despite previous plans to go to Israel, a source familiar with his meetings told CNN.

Burns has acted as a key interlocutor for the United States in the multiparty talks between Israel, Hamas, Egypt, and Qatar over a release of hostages held in Gaza that would be paired with a temporary ceasefire.

It’s unclear why Burns’ stay in Doha was extended or what may have changed. Sources have consistently noted how fluid the negotiations over a Gaza ceasefire are.

The US has sought to increase the pressure on Hamas to accept what is thought to be the most recent proposal — which sources previously told CNN would require the group to release as many as 33 hostages kidnapped from Israel in exchange for a pause in hostilities in Gaza — while also trying to prevent the Israeli military from launching a ground offensive on Rafah.

Even with a deal in place, Netanyahu has said Israel could still enter Rafah as it looks to eliminate the threat from Hamas.

This story has been updated with new reporting.

CNN’s Alex Marquardt, Jack Forrest, Ibrahim Dahman, Tim Lister, Michael Schwartz, Kareem Khadder, Eyad Kourdi, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Becky Anderson and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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Biden administration pauses ammunition shipment to Israel