U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated to his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, that Israel has a right to defend itself amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

According to a readout from the Pentagon, Austin “underscored his continued support for Israel’s right to defend itself, reviewed assessments of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and urged de-escalation of the conflict.”

The pronouncement comes after U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier on Wednesday that he wanted to see a “significant de-escalation” in the Gaza conflict. Netanyahu responded that there is no timeframe for the end of the fighting.

Meanwhile, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) approved $735 million in precision-guided missiles to Israel on Tuesday. Meeks had faced significant pressure from progressive Democrats to delay the sale.

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