Talks Resume on Bringing Israeli Officials to the US to Discuss Gaza Operation: White House

Talks Resume on Bringing Israeli Officials to the US to Discuss Gaza Operation: White House
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg listens as White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (L) speaks about the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse during a press briefing at the White House on March 27, 2024. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON—Talks have restarted aimed at bringing top Israeli officials to Washington to discuss potential military operations in Gaza, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned visit this week because he was angry about the U.S. vote on a U.N. cease-fire resolution, the White House said Wednesday.

“So we’re now working with them to find a convenient date that’s obviously going to work for both sides,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

No date has been finalized yet.

The prime minister canceled the trip this week after the U.N. vote to demand a cease-fire in Hamas-run Gaza; the U.S. abstained from the vote but did not veto it. Mr. Netanyahu accused the United States of “retreating” from a “principled position” by allowing the resolution to pass without conditioning the cease-fire on the release of hostages held by the Hamas terrorist group.

The delegation to the United States was meant to discuss a promised ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is overflowing with displaced civilians. Israel has so far rejected American appeals to call off the planned operation.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was already in Washington by the time Mr. Netanyahu canceled the trip by other officials. Mr. Gallant met with Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The Gaza operation was one of many topics they discussed.

Mr. Netanyahu on Wednesday said his decision to cancel was meant to deliver a message to Hamas that international pressure against Israel will not prompt it to end the war without concessions from the terrorist group.

Speaking to visiting Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mr. Netanyahu said the canceled visit “was a message first and foremost to Hamas: Don’t bet on this pressure, it’s not going to work.”

Mr. Netanyahu said the United States’ abstention on the U.N. vote was “very, very bad,” and that it “encouraged Hamas to take a hard line and to believe that international pressure will prevent Israel” from achieving its war aims. Israel wants to destroy Hamas’s military and governing capabilities and free the hostages taken by the terrorist group during its Oct. 7 attack against Israel.

The U.S. abstention and Mr. Netanyahu’s subsequent decision to cancel the delegation represented the strongest public dispute between the two allies since the war in Gaza began.

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