Harris to meet with key Israeli official in DC amid White House push for Gaza cease-fire

Harris to meet with key Israeli official in DC amid White House push for Gaza cease-fire
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Vice President Harris will host a member of Israel’s War Cabinet in Washington, D.C., on Monday, one day after she called for an immediate pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Harris will meet behind closed doors with Benny Gantz, a political rival to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Gantz will also meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan while in town.

The Associated Press noted that Gantz did not have approval from Netanyahu for the meetings in Washington, underscoring the rift among some Israeli officials over the approach to the conflict with Hamas.

White House officials have in recent days aggressively lobbied for a temporary cease-fire that would allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas and for aid to reach Gaza, which has been hammered by Israeli attacks since the fighting began last October.

During remarks Sunday in Selma, Ala., marking “Bloody Sunday,” Harris stressed there is a deal on the table for a six-week pause in fighting and that it is on Hamas to accept the agreement.

“Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate cease-fire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table,” Harris said. “This will get the hostages out and get a significant amount of aid in.”

“This would allow us to build something more enduring to ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to dignity, freedom and self-determination,” she added.

The U.S. over the weekend began conducting emergency airdrops of food into Gaza, with additional airdrops expected in the coming days.

President Biden is at Camp David ahead of Thursday’s State of the Union address and will not be present for the meeting with Gantz, though he has held regular phone calls with Netanyahu since the conflict began in early October with a surprise Hamas attack on Israel in which some 1,200 people were killed.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians, said last week that 30,035 people had died in Gaza since the war between Israel and the militant group began.

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