Harris will meet with an Israeli cabinet official who is in Washington despite Netanyahu’s rebuke

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting with voting rights leaders in the Indian Treaty Room, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House complex in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Harris will meet with an Israeli cabinet official who is in Washington despite Netanyahu’s rebuke

Israel-Hamas, Kamala Harris

AAMER MADHANI and SEUNG MIN KIM

March 4, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris will receive on Monday a member of Israel’s war cabinet who is visiting Washington in defiance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benny Gantz, a centrist political rival of Netanyahu, speaks this week with several senior Biden administration officials, including Harris, Foreign Minister Antony

J.

Blinken, National Security Council Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk and White House National Security Officer Jake Sullivan

counselor.

President Biden is at Camp David, the presidential retreat just outside Washington, until Tuesday. Gantz is also scheduled to meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday

(R-Ky.)

.

Gantz met Sunday with top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East Barbara Leaf and State Department adviser Derek Chollet ahead of his meetings at the White House, according to administration officials who were not authorized to comment publicly and to provide requested anonymity.

Last weekend, Harris made a strong call for a temporary ceasefire

agreement

in Gaza,

what a deal that is

administrative officials sa

ID card

would halt fighting for at least six weeks, and also increase pressure on Israel not to hinder the aid workers in the region were trying to get. The White House has been advocating for that framework agreement for weeks.

Given the immense scale of the suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is currently on the table, Harris said during an appearance in Selma, Ala.

., bam,

on Sunday. This will free the hostages and bring in a significant amount of aid.

Harris continued: This would allow us to build something more lasting to ensure that Israel is safe and to respect the Palestinian people’s right to dignity, freedom and self-determination.

White House hosts Netanyahu’s rival as Biden faces mounting political pressure at home over his administration’s handling of the five-month war between Israel and Hamas, sparked after militants launched an attack in Gaza , which left 1,200 people dead and about 250 people taken hostage.

During last week’s Michigan presidential primary, more than 100,000 Democratic primary voters cast ballots for uncommitted voters.” Biden still easily won the state’s primaries, but

underlines the results

the coordinated pressure from voters on the left who are dissatisfied with the president’s continued support for Israel as its military operations in Gaza have killed more than 30,000 Palestinians. The vote totals are raising concerns for Democrats in a state that Biden won by just 154,000 votes in 2020.

Harris painted a horrific portrait of malnourished and dying children in Gaza in her comments in Selma. She emphasized that the Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.

“No excuses,” Harris said. They need to open new border crossings. They may not impose unnecessary restrictions on the provision of assistance. They must ensure that humanitarian personnel, locations and convoys are not targeted. And they must work to restore basic services and promote order in Gaza so that more food, water and fuel can reach those in need.

Israel has essentially agreed to the deal, a senior Biden administration official said, and the White House has emphasized that the onus is on Hamas to join.

An official from Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party said Gantz did not have the prime minister’s approval for his meetings in Washington and that Netanyahu had given the cabinet official a tough talk.

underline further revealing

the widening rift within Israel’s wartime leadership.

Gantz, who polls show could be a formidable candidate for prime minister if a vote were to take place today, is seen as a political moderate. But he has been vague about his views on Palestinian statehood, something Biden sees as essential to forging a lasting peace once the conflict ends but which Netanyahu staunchly opposes.

It is also believed that when the heavy combat subsidies leave the government, Gantz

what a move that is

would increase pressure for early elections.

Since Gantz joined Netanyahu’s cabinet of three ministers in October, U.S. officials have found him easier to get along with than Netanyahu or Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Although Gantz has much of the same

difficult-

With line views like Netanyahu and Gallant, he is seen as more open to compromise on critical issues, including the increased delivery of humanitarian aid, which will be a major topic of discussion at meetings in Washington this week.

So far, calls for elections have been muted due to the war, but analysts believe that if Gantz leaves the government, it will send a signal to the Israeli public that the need for national unity is over and that efforts to destroy the government of Netanyahu’s ousting could begin in 2011. serious.

For his part, Gantz wants to strengthen ties with the US during his time in Washington, increase support for Israel’s war and push for the release of Israeli hostages, a second Israeli official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss disputes within the Israeli government. Gantz will go to London for meetings after his visit to the US.

It remains to be seen whether Gantz will deviate from Netanyahu’s positions on Palestinian statehood during his time in Washington, or carry out an extensive operation in the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah. The Biden administration has repeatedly warned Israel about a Rafah operation without a plan to protect civilians.

“I have no doubt that there are some administration officials who believe that just by meeting with Gantz, they are undermining Netanyahu,” said Richard Goldberg, a senior administration official.

counselor

at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank in Washington. But if Gantz pushes the administration’s line on major issues of disagreement, these meetings will be net negative for the White House, while useful for Gantz at home.

The US has launched a series of airdrops of aid in Gaza, just days after dozens of Palestinians were killed trying to get food from an Israeli-organized convoy. The first drop on Saturday included about 38,000 meals to southwestern Gaza, and White House officials have said these air drops will continue to supplement truck deliveries as they also work to send aid by sea.

Harris previously met Gantz at the 2022 Munich Security Conference.

Associated Press writers Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel; Wafaa Shurafa in Rafah, Gaza Strip; and Samy Magdy in Cairo and Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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