Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel officials to meet top White House adviser, US official says

June 20, 2024 at 3:46 pm

US President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks at a White House Press Briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2023 [Celal Güneş – Anadolu Agency]

Two top advisers to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will meet with White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Thursday amid tensions between the two allies over Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, a US official said, Reuters reports.

Israeli National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Ron Dermer, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, will meet Sullivan as a larger, more formal “strategic dialogue” meeting was being rescheduled, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The White House official said the wider meeting has not been cancelled but that details were being finalised.

“In the meantime, meetings with Israeli officials are being held throughout the week at expert and senior levels on a range of topics,” the official said.

Netanyahu, on Tuesday, issued an English-language video in which he said US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had assured him that the Biden administration was working to lift restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel, an exchange the top US diplomat declined to confirm.

READ: Hamas welcomes UN inquiry results as ‘another’ confirmation of Israel’s crimes in Gaza

In a rare expose of normally private high-level diplomatic conversations, Netanyahu also said he told Blinken that it was “inconceivable” that in the past few months Washington was “withholding weapons and ammunitions” to Israel.

The comment prompted retorts from the Biden administration.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about. We just don’t,” White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

Blinken said weapons shipments – with the exception of one with large bombs – were moving as usual, given Israel faced security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran. He declined to comment on his private exchange with Netanyahu during a news conference on Tuesday.

The United States, in May, paused a shipment of 2,000 pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in densely-populated areas but Israel was still due to get billions of dollars worth of US weaponry.

Scrutiny on Israel’s conduct in its military operation in Gaza has increased as the Palestinian death toll from the war has soared to above 37,000, according to health officials in the enclave and reduced Gaza to a wasteland.

The war started when Palestinian Hamas fighters stormed across the border and attacked Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Biden, in April, warned Israel that the US would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces make a major invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is the last refuge for many displaced by the war.

READ: Israel army spokesman says destroying Hamas is like throwing ashes in the public’s eyes