Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (r) with OECD chief Mathias Cormann in Jerusalem, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Mishel Amzaleg/FMO.
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Headline
OECD chief expresses confidence in Israeli economy
Intro
"The extent of the war's impact on the main growth engines of the Israeli economy, especially technology and innovation, is relatively low," said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
text

During a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Monday, Mathias Cormann, Secretary General for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said he expects Israel's economy to grow by 4.5% in 2025.

Cormann's statement demonstrated the OECD's faith in Israel's economy in the longer term, even after the organization lowered Israel's growth forecast from 2.9% to 2.3% in 2023 and predicted a still sharper reduction of 1.5% for 2024 (compared to 3.3%) due to the Oct. 7 attack.

Cohen detailed the moves Israel's government and Foreign Ministry were taking to keep the economy's wheels turning during the war.

Israel is a world leader in the fields of food security, water, climate and agriculture, and will continue to be so after the fall of Hamas and the return of the hostages, he said.

Cormann proposed the OECD's aid tools for dealing with the challenges posed by the war in Gaza.

The two also discussed promoting regional projects with an emphasis on cooperation with the countries of the Abraham Accords.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with OECD chief Mathias Cormann in Jerusalem, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Mishel Amzaleg/FMO.

"The State of Israel entered the war in Gaza in a solid economic situation and with the ability to provide the best response to the needs of the Israeli economy," said Cohen.

"The extent of the war's impact on the main growth engines of the Israeli economy, especially technology and innovation, is relatively low," he added.

"Past experience proves that after the end of security crises and wars, there is accelerated growth, and the expected increase in immigration to Israel from around the world will also contribute to the strengthening of the Israeli economy," he said.

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A United Nations panel previously knocked by a number of countries for anti-Israel bias issued a report Wednesday on the opening months of the current Israel-Hamas war, repeatedly claiming equivalencies between the actions of the Jewish state and the Western-designated terrorist group.

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accused both sides of disregarding international law and committing war crimes. It takes Israel security forces to task for a delayed response on the day of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre—a claim that would seem to fall well outside even the commission’s expansive mandate. 

Israel has refused to cooperate with any of the commission’s investigations or activities, noting its members are three jurists who have long criticized Israel and at times delved into open antisemitism—chair Navi Pillay, Miloon Kothari and Chris Sidoti.

The report describes Hamas’s massacre as “unprecedented in scale in [Israel’s] modern history” and “invoking painful trauma of past persecution not only for Israeli Jews but for Jewish people everywhere.”

The commission substantiated some claims of sexual violence on Oct. 7, writing that it had “documented evidence of sexual violence” committed by Palestinian armed groups in multiple locations in southern Israel that day. 

Hamas terrorists, the report said, targeted women, whose bodies were “used as victory trophies by male perpetrators” and “put on public display, either on the streets of the Gaza Strip or online.”

But, the commission said, it could not independently verify rape testimonies in the hands of journalists and police due to Israel’s lack of cooperation.

The report, however, also accused Israeli forces of carrying out sexual violence in both Gaza and in territories in Judea and Samara, which the commission said intended to drive home “the subordination of an occupied people.”

But, the commission cites as sexual violence incidents when terrorism suspects were allegedly interrogated or abused while naked or partially dressed, blindfolded or forced to kneel or keep their hands tied behind their backs, and accuses Israeli forces of particularly targeting men and boys, rather than women.

In reaction to photos and videos of large numbers of Gazan men gathered together in their underwear surrounded by Israeli forces, Israeli officials have said on many occasions that such treatment of detained males is necessary to ensure they have no explosives or other hidden weapons.

The commission’s report blames Israel in part for the civilian casualty toll on Oct. 7, saying that “Israeli authorities failed to protect civilians in southern Israel on almost every front.” 

That includes, according to the commission, a delayed and inadequate response by security forces and the usage of the “Hannibal Directive,” which allegedly led to the deaths of 14 Israeli civilians. The murky, unpublished and often misunderstood directive was originally created to ensure enemy forces could not take Israeli military members as hostages, even if it meant putting the soldiers in harm’s way. The directive was never intended to apply to Israeli civilians. 

Meanwhile, despite overwhelming evidence, including from Hamas officials, that Gazan terrorist groups operate regularly in civilian areas and do so as a matter of policy, the commission only writes that it is “aware of reports” and Israeli “allegations” that Hamas and other groups operate in civilian areas.

Israel and other countries have said Hamas and other Gazan terrorist groups use their own civilians as shields to protect terrorists and to inflate the casualty toll during times of conflict in order to drive public opinion against Israel.

While the commission wrote that neither the Oct. 7 massacre nor Israel’s military response should be viewed in isolation, the Israeli mission to the United Nations in Geneva noted in a statement that the report “makes no mention of [the] decades-long” terrorist campaign by Hamas “or the continuous rocket fire across Israeli territory. The reports disregard the abhorrent use of human shields by Hamas, the deliberate Hamas strategy of placing civilians in the line of fire.”

“Regarding Israel however,” the statement adds, “the report has no problem placing blame for supposedly not defending its population on Oct. 7.”

Israel’s U.N. envoy in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, said that the Commission of Inquiry “has once again proven that its actions are all in the service of a narrow-led political agenda against Israel.”

The statements from the Israeli mission and its envoy were based on an embargoed copy of the commission’s report, which was knowingly released on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, leading to a delayed reaction by other Israeli officials who, as a matter of policy, do not issue statements on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.

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Hamas’s official response to Israel’s hostages-for-ceasefire proposal included modifications that are not workable, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. … Some of the changes are workable, some are not,” Blinken said in a press conference alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha.

“A deal was on the table that was virtually identical to the proposal that Hamas made on May 6—a deal that the entire world is behind, a deal Israel has accepted. Hamas could have answered with a single word: ‘Yes,’" the secretary said.

"Instead, Hamas waited nearly two weeks and then proposed more changes, a number of which go beyond positions that had previously taken and accepted,” added the top American diplomat, who was in Israel for a two-day visit earlier this week.

“As a result, the war Hamas started on October 7 with its barbaric attack on Israel and on Israeli civilians will go on. More people will suffer, more Palestinians will suffer, more Israelis will suffer."

Blinken nevertheless said that "in the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis with our partners, with Qatar with Egypt, to try to close this deal. Because we know it’s in the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, the region, indeed the entire world.”

On Tuesday night, Hamas submitted to Egyptian and Qatari intermediaries its formal response, including “amendments” to the proposal that Israel said were tantamount to a rejection.

An anonymous Israeli official was widely cited panning the terrorist group, which had “changed all of the main and most meaningful parameters” of the deal.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing two Egyptian security officials, that Hamas is seeking written guarantees from the Biden administration for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip as a condition for signing off on the proposal.

The report also said Hamas wants explicit guarantees over the transition from the first phase of the plan, which includes a six-week truce and the release of some hostages, to the second phase, which includes an end to the war and Israeli pullback.

Hamas also proposed a new timeline for the phases.

The White House

On May 31, President Joe Biden laid out the terms of the proposal in an address from the State Dining Room at the White House.

“The first phase would last for six weeks,” he said. “Here’s what it would include: a full and complete ceasefire. The withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza. Release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”

That phase, which would also include the return of the remains of dead hostages and the daily delivery of 600 trucks of aid to Gazans, would lead to an indefinite period of negotiations between Israel and Hamas to end the war, Biden said.

“During the six weeks of phase one, Israel and Hamas would negotiate the necessary arrangements to get to phase two, which is a permanent end to hostilities,” the president added. “The proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks from phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue.”

The United States, Egypt and Qatar “would work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached and phase two is able to begin,” Biden added.

In the second phase, “Israeli forces will withdraw from Gaza” and "release additional Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages," the president said. Quoting the text of the proposal, he said that at that point, the ceasefire would become “the cessation of hostilities permanently.”

The third phase would include the reconstruction of Gaza and the return of any remaining dead hostages. During this stage, the international community would ensure that Hamas does not rearm.

Last week, leaders of 16 countries, including many whose citizens were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, issued a statement backing the proposal. Noting that Jerusalem was “ready to move forward” with the terms, they called on the Gaza-based terrorist group to “close this agreement.”

“There is no time to lose,” read the statement signed by the leaders of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The United States also signed the statement.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution backing the three-phase plan to end the war. Noting that Israel had accepted it, the resolution calls for Hamas to do the same, and for both sides to “implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

In an interview with Time magazine published earlier this month, Biden described the Israeli ceasefire offer as "very generous."

“The last offer Israel made was very generous in terms of who [Palestinian prisoners] they’d be willing to release, what they’d give in return, et cetera. Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is under enormous pressure on the hostages … and so he’s prepared to do about anything to get the hostages back,” said Biden.

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The Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday the targeted killing of Hezbollah commander Sami Taleb Abdullah, who headed the Nasr Unit, or "Victory Force," one of the Iranian-back terror group's three divisions in Southern Lebanon, responsible for the eastern sector.

Abdullah, 55, who assumed his position in 2016, was killed in an airstrike Tuesday night in the Jouaiyya area, where he oversaw attacks since Oct. 7 on the cities of Kiryat Shmona and Safed, Moshavs Margaliot and Avivim, and other places. He was known within Hezbollah as Hajj Abu Taleb.

He also spearheaded attacks causing recent widespread fires in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, as well as the launch of Hezbollah's Burkan missiles, which have a maximum range of 10 km. (6.2 miles) and carry up to 500 kg. (1,100 pounds) of explosive material, at Israeli communities.

He is the senior-most of some 300 Hezbollah terrorists killed since the Iranian proxy began near-daily attacks on Israel in the immediate aftermath of Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre.

https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1800839411921526893

"Abdullah was one of Hezbollah's most senior commanders in Southern Lebanon who planned, advanced and carried out a large number of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians," the IDF said.

Three additional terrorists were killed in Tuesday's strike.

In response, Hezbollah fired more than 200 rockets at northern Israel.

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The head of the United Nations has blacklisted both the Israeli military and Hamas, including them for the first time on his annual list of perpetrators that harm children during conflict.

"I am appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel” and Judea and Samaria, wrote António Guterres in his yearly report, which was sent to U.N. Security Council members on Tuesday and viewed by JNS ahead of its publication on Thursday.

Guterres's special representative for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, carries a Security Council mandate to monitor, prevent and report on such violations.

The report, known as the “list of shame,” is intended to embarrass those so designated into performing corrective action with regards to their alleged violations against children, including killing, maiming, recruitment, abduction, sexual violence, denial of humanitarian assistance and attacks against schools and hospitals.

Guterres blacklisted the Israeli military and security forces, Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and affiliated factions and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades.

In the report viewed by JNS, covering the 2023 calendar year, the United Nations said it verified 8,009 grave violations against Israeli and Palestinian children, but the verification process has been hampered due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. 

Of the verified violations, 113 were against Israeli children, with most child casualties in Gaza since Israel’s military response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, caused by "the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by Israeli armed and security forces."

Israeli officials have expressed indignation at being included on the list, which has typically featured designated terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda or other Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Taliban.

Israel was informed last Friday that it would be included on this year’s list, with Gilad Erdan, the Jewish state’s U.N. ambassador, telling Guterres’s chief of staff during the so-called courtesy call that he was “utterly shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision of the secretary-general," adding that Israel’s placement on the list rewards Hamas, which uses children and other civilians as human shields and recruits soldiers of minor age.

Erdan later published a recording of his remarks during the call, drawing criticism from Guterres’s office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last Friday that “the U.N. added itself to the blacklist of history when it joined those who support the Hamas murderers," adding, "The IDF is the most moral army in the world. No delusional U.N. decision will change that."

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were among the New York City politicians who issued statements condemning Monday’s protests outside the Nova music festival exhibition in the city’s financial district as antisemitic on Tuesday.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer described visiting the exhibit on Friday and his disgust at seeing images from Monday’s protest, which included explicitly pro-Hamas messages.

“It is sick that anyone should show up at an exhibit like this to protest,” Schumer said. “The protest and the vitriolic rhetoric outside the Nova exhibit were nothing short of despicable, inhumane and antisemitic.”

“Antisemitism, like what occurred outside the Nova music festival exhibition has no place in our city, in our state or in America,” he said.

The exhibit describes itself as “an in-depth remembrance of the brutal Oct. 7 attack” that “sets out to recreate an event dedicated to peace and love that was brutally cut short by Hamas’s attack on Israel from Gaza on that fateful day.”

The organizer of the exhibit announced that the show, which was scheduled to close this week, will remain open until June 22 due to “overwhelming demand.”

Adams issued a three-minute video on social media saying that he had a “moral obligation” to speak out after seeing a video of a protester saying that “I wish Hitler was still here, he would have wiped all of you out.”

“These are reprehensible and foul comments,” Adams said. “I and every New Yorker who stands for peace, stands united against them.”

Adams promised to arrest protesters who break the law, and said that since Oct. 8, the New York City Police Department has made more than 2,850 arrests at Israel and Gaza-related protests.

Chuck Schumer Nova exhibit
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) visits the Nova exhibit in New York City. Credit: Office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Other New York politicians who condemned the protests on Monday and Tuesday included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y) and Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), representing the full spectrum of opinion about Israel from staunch supporters of the Jewish state to some of its fiercest critics.

Schumer’s office told JNS that his remarks were not coordinated with any of the other statements and that he decided to speak in the Senate after learning about the protests.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with King Abdullah II and spoke at the conference “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza,” during which he announced another $404 million in U.S. aid to Palestinians, in Sweimeh, Jordan. 

Blinken both criticized Israel for not doing enough to help struggling Palestinian civilians and took Arab states to task for not providing enough aid.

Some of the countries that have “expressed great concern over the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza—including countries with the capacity to give a lot—have provided very little or nothing at all,” Blinken charged at the conference. “It is time for everyone—everyone—to step up.”

“For those who have already given and given generously, give more,” he said, noting that Washington “has for decades been the largest single country provider of assistance for Palestinians.” The $404 million in new aid brings the total that Washington has provided to Palestinians since 2021 up to $1.8 billion, he said.

The United States has provided $674 million in the last eight months, the State Department stated.

Blinken also met with the Jordanian king in Sweimeh, which borders the Dead Sea.

The U.S. secretary “underscored continued unwavering U.S. support for Jordan and the Jordanian people” as he cited 75 years of U.S.-Jordanian partnership and “commended the king’s commitment to economic modernization and vital public sector reforms,” per a U.S. readout of the meeting.

The U.S. secretary and Jordanian king “discussed the comprehensive ceasefire and hostage release deal now on the table that offers a concrete roadmap for ending the war in Gaza” and Blinken thanked the king for Jordan’s “support for the deal and leadership in facilitating the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza,” according to Matthew Miller, the U.S. State Department spokesman.

During the meeting, which the Jordanian crown prince attended, the king stressed “the importance of stepping up efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” per an official Jordanian description of the meeting.

“The king warned against undermining the efforts of UNRWA in Gaza, adding that it represents a lifeline for nearly two million Palestinians in the sector,” per Jordanian media.

Speaking at the conference, Blinken charged that 95% of Palestinians in Gaza lack clean drinking water.

Blinken Jordan
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in a “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza” international conference in Sweimeh, Jordan, June 11, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

“Hunger is everywhere. Virtually everyone in Gaza depends on aid to survive,” he said. “The single most effective step we can take to address the urgent humanitarian challenges in Gaza is to reach an immediate—and ultimately, enduring—ceasefire.”

Blinken credited Israel with taking “some important steps” to open more entry points into Gaza for aid. “But it can and must do more,” he said.

He said that Washington has told the Israeli government directly “to speed up the inspection of trucks and reduce backlogs; to provide greater clarity on—and shorten the list of—prohibited goods; to increase visas for aid workers and to process them more quickly; to create clearer, more effective channels for humanitarian groups to de-conflict with IDF operations; to surge lifesaving medicine and equipment; to provide everything necessary to repair water and sanitation systems.”

It wasn’t clear what sort of “prohibited goods” Blinken was referring to Israel having to clarify and minimize, and that appeared to be a U.S. requirement that hadn’t been articulated publicly in a White House, State Department or Pentagon release or press briefing.

JNS sought comment from the National Security Council, State Department, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Israel must take further steps to reduce civilian casualties—even as it confronts an enemy that started this war with the barbaric slaughter of civilians on Oct. 7, an enemy that conducts operations from schools, from hospitals, from camps of displaced families, an enemy that cynically hides behind or underneath the people it purports to represent,” he said.

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The Republican Jewish Coalition voiced its support for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, in his race for Oklahoma’s 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

“Tom Cole played an indispensable role in passing the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act—the bill to provide $14 billion in emergency aid for Israel’s self-defense war in Gaza,” Norm Coleman and Matt Brooks, national chairman and CEO, respectively, of the RJC said in a statement on Monday.

The RJC heads described Cole as a leader in “the difficult fight to compel the Biden administration to deliver the promised aid. When Biden announced his weapons embargo against Israel, Cole spoke out strongly, calling on Biden to ‘stop appeasing terrorists and stand with Israel.’”

Calling Cole a “stalwart ally in the fight against antisemitism,” Brooks and Coleman praised the congressman as “a strong supporter of the National Security Grant Program that aids so many Jewish institutions. He has also used his platform to challenge what he accurately called in a recently published column, ‘The Far Left’s Serious Anti-Israel Problem.’”

In the May 6 article, the congressman warned that “we have watched Democrats spread anti-Israel rhetoric time and time again.”

He wrote: “As the Leader of the Free World, we must support our allies, work together and lead through with strength. To do anything else is a public betrayal to our friends in Israel and effectively supports an enemy to civilized people around the world.”

The RJC dismissed Cole’s opponent, newcomer Paul L. Bondar, who reportedly has millions to spend on the race, as lacking a “record on any of these issues, just like he has no record of living in the district he’s running in.”

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  • Words count:
    787 words
  • Type of content:
    News
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    June 11, 2024
  • Media:
    1 file

As U.S. President Joe Biden faces growing criticism from Jewish and pro-Israel groups about his and his administration’s response to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor, defended his boss at the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum on Tuesday.

“On the core strategic objective—the enduring defeat of the terrorist threats against the state of Israel—there is absolutely no daylight between Joe Biden and Israel,” Sullivan said on Tuesday morning. “None. Zero.” 

“The debates are over not the ‘what,’ not the objective, but rather over tactical issues, over operational issues, over particular steps that we would like to see taken,” the U.S. national security advisor said. “Because we think it’s not just in our interest, but frankly, we think it is consistent with Israel’s interests and values too.”

Biden laid out an Israeli ceasefire-for-hostages proposal on May 31 that would see the release of all hostages in exchange for a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the release of a yet-undisclosed number of Palestinian prisoners and a permanent end to hostilities.

“It’s time for this war to end,” Biden said at the time.

The terms of the deal that Biden outlined neither required Hamas to surrender nor to leave the Gaza Strip, which left the question open how the deal would be consistent with removing the U.S.-designated terror organization from power.

Sullivan said on Tuesday that negotiations between intervals of the three-phased deal would produce a new Palestinian government in Gaza.

“If we get into a deal and we work through the phases, we can end up with an interim security enterprise and interim governance enterprise that can lead to a Gaza that is no longer a platform for terror, and from which no attacks of the sort that we saw on Oct. 7 can ever be conducted again against Israel,” Sullivan said at the AJC event.

Sullivan added that Palestinians “can live in dignity and security” in such a situation, and “the Israeli people can know that Gaza will not be a platform for terror that can threaten innocent people in Israel going forward.”

Hamas rejected the proposal on Thursday, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, believes that he is in a strong negotiating position, per recent messages he sent to the negotiators.

“We have the Israelis right where we want them,” Sinwar said in one message to Hamas officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a humanitarian aid conference in Jordan on Tuesday that Hamas is the “one—and only one” thing preventing the deal from going forward.

'Not be under threat there'

On Tuesday, Sullivan described a series of positive knock-on effects if the ceasefire deal goes through that he said would be a “game-changer” in terms of opportunities for Israel, including the return of Israelis to the evacuated strip of communities along the Lebanese border that is currently under frequent rocket fire from Hezbollah.

“If we get to a ceasefire in Gaza, we can get to calm in Lebanon, and we can work out a diplomatic arrangement where tens of thousands of Israeli citizens can return to their homes and know that they will not be under threat there,” Sullivan said. 

“We can have a day after in Gaza where the Arab states play a significant role in both stabilizing and reconstructing Gaza, so that it is not that platform for terror that it has been in the past,” he said. “We can begin down a pathway of Israel’s full integration into the region, including normalization with additional countries, including potentially Saudi Arabia.”

The Biden administration has been seeking a package deal with Riyadh since before Oct. 7 that would include the kingdom normalizing relations with Israel in exchange for a formal U.S.-Saudi security pact. 

The Saudis have also said in public statements that they will not recognize Israel until the Jewish state recognizes a Palestinian state. Sullivan said on Tuesday that the deal is for “a credible pathway to a Palestinian state.”

The Biden administration remains committed to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added. He acknowledged Israeli critics of a two-state solution who believe that an independent Palestine would be a haven for terrorism.

“I recognize that there are deep concerns and worries, not just in the Israeli government but in the Israeli public on this issue,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that and work to address those concerns.”

“But I believe there’s nothing inconsistent with a credible pathway to a Palestinian state and a long-term secure future for Israel,” he added.

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  • Words count:
    438 words
  • Type of content:
    Update Desk
  • Publication Date:
    June 11, 2024

Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the U.S. Department of Defense press secretary, insisted in a press conference on Monday that the temporary pier anchored to the coast of Gaza played no role whatsoever in Israel's rescue of four hostages over the weekend.

Ryder told reporters repeatedly that U.S. troops were not at all involved in Saturday's rescue operation but he said that U.S. drones continue to fly overheard to aid in rescuing hostages.

"Just to push back on some of the inaccurate social media allegations you saw over the weekend," he told reporters, U.S. Central Command "pushed out a statement over the weekend that the humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel and assets, were not used in the IDF's operation to rescue hostages in Gaza."

"Any such claim to the contrary is false," Ryder said. "To underscore, the temporary pier on the coast of Gaza was put in place for one purpose only: to help move additional urgently-needed lifesaving assistance to Gaza."

Reporters pressed Ryder on whether U.S. troops were endangered either due to the proximity of the Israeli rescue mission to the temporary pier or because there had been rumors that the pier was involved in the operation.

"We've seen U.S. troops attacked and even killed before because of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories," one reporter said. "How would you categorize what we're seeing right now with the pier and the belief in Gaza that U.S. troops are involved?"

"Disinformation and misinformation are challenges globally, but particularly in this environment, given what you're seeing play out in the Israel-Hamas conflict," Ryder said. "There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about what U.S. forces are not doing, which is why briefings like this and others that we do are important."

Ryder also spoke about U.S. involvement in hostage recovery operations.

"Beyond the broad acknowledgment that the U.S. is supportive and is, you know, providing—has provided support generally when it comes to hostage recovery efforts," he said, "we're just not going to get into specifics on details, in terms of what intelligence support may or may not have looked like."

"I can tell you that there was no U.S. military involvement in this rescue operation, nor were there any U.S. forces on the ground," he added.

"Are U.S. drones still flying over Gaza to help with hostage rescue efforts?" a reporter asked.

Ryder said they were.

"We do continue to provide support in that regard," he said. "But again, I'm not going to be able to go into any more specifics than that."

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