Israel Asks US To Reschedule Scrapped Meeting On Rafah Offensive Plans

Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 32,000 people (File)


Israel wants to reschedule talks in Washington to discuss a possible offensive in the Gaza city of Rafah, days after it canceled the trip in protest at a UN ceasefire resolution, a US official said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily scrapped the visit on Monday after Israel’s closest ally, the United States, abstained on the UN Security Council vote, allowing it to pass and deepening talk of a rift with President Joe Biden.

But after the White House said it was “perplexed” by the move, Israel backtracked.

“The prime minister’s office has said they’d like to reschedule the meeting dedicated to Rafah. We are now working with them to set a convenient date,” the senior administration official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U-turn came after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had “constructive discussions” over the last two days with senior US officials in Washington, the official added.

“Rafah was one of the many topics discussed” in the talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA chief Bill Burns and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Last week, Netanyahu agreed to a personal request by Biden to send a team to Washington to hear US concerns and discuss ways to target Hamas without a major ground operation in Rafah, which is crowded with refugees.

But after the UN Security Council vote demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war, Israel said that it was canceling and that the US abstention “hurts” its war effort and its bid to free hostages.

The White House said on Monday it was “kind of perplexed” and “very disappointed” by the cancelation.

The United States also insisted its abstention did not represent a shift in policy on Israel.

But Biden has voiced increasing frustration with Netanyahu as the civilian death count in the Gaza Strip mounts and the humanitarian situation for Palestinians becomes increasingly dire.

The US president was caught on a hot mic recently saying he needed to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with the Israeli premier over the situation.

Israel launched a relentless offensive on Gaza after an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian group Hamas resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

Around 130 people are still believed to be held hostage in Gaza following the attack.

Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 32,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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