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Israel Seeks Meeting Reschedule On Rafah Military Plans After Netanyahu’s Cancellation

To mend strained relations, Israel has sought to reschedule meeting with US regarding military plans for Gaza’s city, Rafah.

Israel has sought to reschedule a high-level meeting with the White House regarding military plans for Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. 

This move follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s abrupt cancellation of the meeting, which had initially prompted a diplomatic rift between the two allies.

Netanyahu’s decision to call off a planned visit to Washington by a senior Israeli delegation came in response to the passage of a Gaza ceasefire resolution at the United Nations on Monday. 

The resolution marked a new low in wartime relations between Netanyahu and President Joe Biden, further exacerbating tensions between the two leaders.

The cancellation of this week’s meeting poses a fresh challenge to efforts by the U.S. to address the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to persuade Netanyahu to explore alternatives to a ground invasion of Rafah, which serves as a relatively safe haven for Palestinian civilians.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed on Wednesday that Israel had agreed to reschedule the dedicated meeting on Rafah. “So we’re now working with them to set (a) convenient date,” she added.

While a new meeting is being arranged, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant engaged in extensive discussions with senior U.S. officials this week, aiming to ease tensions between the two governments. 

Gallant, not part of Netanyahu’s inner circle but a key figure in Israel’s campaign against Hamas, sought to lower the temperature amid escalating hostilities.

Despite the diplomatic setback, Israel remains committed to addressing the situation in Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians seek shelter. Talks between Israeli officials and their U.S. counterparts are expected to focus on potential military strategies in the region.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller indicated that the U.S. believes a limited military campaign in Rafah could target remaining commanders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. 

However, the Biden administration has expressed its preference for alternatives to a full-scale ground invasion, which it views as potentially disastrous.

The threat of such an offensive has heightened tensions between the United States and Israel, prompting speculation about potential consequences for military aid if Netanyahu proceeds against Biden’s wishes.

Amidst growing pressure from allies and fellow Democrats to rein in Israel’s military response, Biden’s recent abstention at the U.N. signaled a shift in U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Netanyahu’s criticism of the U.S. decision reflects the strain in bilateral relations, with both sides grappling to find common ground.

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