Israel’s Defense Minister Visits U.S., Aiming to Shore Up Support

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, was scheduled to hold a second day of meetings on Tuesday with top Biden administration officials in Washington, as friction ratcheted up between the two allies over the U.S. decision to allow the passage of a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Mr. Gallant is expected to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin, and the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, who was in Doha, Qatar, last week to partake in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Before his trip, Mr. Gallant said that the meetings would be centered on preserving Israeli’s military edge and particularly its air power, for which the United States provides billions of dollars in assistance annually and supplies weaponry.

The Israeli defense minister’s visit is continuing after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the United States on Monday for abstaining from the vote at the U.N. Security Council, calling it a “retreat” from previous U.S. positions and saying the move “harms the war effort as well as the effort to liberate the hostages.”

In response to the passage of the Security Council resolution for a cease-fire, Mr. Netanyahu said he was scrapping a plan to dispatch a delegation to Washington to discuss Israel’s potential offensive in Rafah.

U.S. officials have said a ground invasion of Rafah, the city at Gaza’s southern edge where more than a million civilians have taken refuge, could be beyond catastrophic. President Biden had himself requested the high-level meeting to talk over alternatives.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield registered the U.S. abstention during a vote on Monday at the U.N. Security Council on a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The measure was adopted. Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Monday, Mr. Gallant met with the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, as well as the secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken.

Mr. Blinken reiterated the United States’ opposition to Israel’s invasion of Rafah and stressed the need for a “surge” in humanitarian aid reaching the territory, according to the State Department. A Pentagon spokesman said Mr. Austin would also hammer home those positions in his meeting on Tuesday with Mr. Gallant.

At the same time, hopes for a breakthrough in the talks aimed at reaching a deal for a halt to the fighting and the release of Israeli hostages appeared to remain distant. Hamas, the armed Palestinian group, said late Monday that the latest proposal on the table did not meet its demands.

The talks in recent days have been hung up on the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released, in particular those serving extended sentences for violence against Israelis, according to two U.S. officials and an Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

Last week, the U.S. delegation — led by Mr. Burns — proposed a compromise to try to bridge the gap, which Israel has accepted, according to the Israeli official and another person familiar with the negotiations. The Hamas statement on Monday appeared to reject it, saying it was demanding Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and “a true prisoner exchange.”

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