update deskIsrael at War

Gallant heads to US amid tensions over Rafah op

The Israeli defense minister is scheduled to meet with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Dec. 18, 2023. Photo by Chad McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.
Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Dec. 18, 2023. Photo by Chad McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant departed for Washington on Sunday, at the invitation of his American counterpart Lloyd Austin.

Gallant is scheduled to meet with Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and additional senior officials.

“The parties will discuss developments in the war against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, efforts undertaken to return the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, humanitarian efforts and measures required to ensure regional stability,” the minister’s office said in a statement.

“Gallant will also raise the importance of maintaining and further deepening the important cooperation between the defense establishments of both countries, as well as topics related to force build-up and maintaining the qualitative military edge of the State of Israel,” it added.

Gallant will be joined by director general of the Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Zamir, head of the IDF’s Strategic Division, Brig. Gen. Benny Gal, and head of the Civil Affairs Department in COGAT Col. Elad Goren, among others.

Gallant’s trip comes on the backdrop of disagreements between Jerusalem and Washington over the prosecution of the next stage of the war against Hamas.

On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Blinken during a meeting in Tel Aviv that the Jewish state cannot defeat Hamas without destroying its battalions in Rafah.

“I told him that I hope we would do this with U.S. support but if necessary, we will do it alone,” Netanyahu said.

For his part, Blinken “discussed efforts to reach an agreement for a ceasefire of at least six weeks that would secure the release of hostages and enable a surge in humanitarian assistance,” according to U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

The top American diplomat also “emphasized the need to protect civilians in Gaza and increase and sustain humanitarian assistance, including through both land and sea routes.”

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