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US national security advisor to visit Israel in effort to dissuade IDF's Rafah operation

Secondary goal: Sullivan seeks to promote Saudi-Israeli normalization

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks at a White House press briefing. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this coming weekend in a bid to prevent Israel from broadening its ongoing operation in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Sullivan will reportedly attempt to persuade Israeli leadership against initiating an operation in Rafah, which U.S. President Joe Biden has described as crossing a “red line” that could lead to further arms embargoes against Israel, according to three U.S. and Israeli officials speaking to the Axios news outlet.

According to the report, Israel assured the United States not to significantly broaden the ongoing operation until Sullivan arrived for discussions with Israeli officials.

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have argued for months that an incursion into Rafah to destroy Hamas’ remaining terror battalions was necessary to defeat the terror organization.

The U.S. has pressured Israel against a large-scale operation, claiming that any military action would lead to massive civilian casualties.

Sullivan’s first stop on his Middle East tour will be Saudi Arabia. The Biden administration has claimed that a large-scale operation in the town in the southern Gaza Strip would endanger the ongoing negotiations for a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S.

Several Arab countries in the region echoed this sentiment in discussions with the U.S., according to Biden’s senior Middle East Advisor Brett McGurk. These nations also warned that a full Israeli operation into Rafah could damage regional cooperation against the Iranian regime, the report added.

McGurk, Biden’s senior advisor, Amos Hochstein, who has been instrumental in efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement between Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will join Sullivan on his visits.

“Israel’s long-term security depends on being integrated into the region and enjoying normal relations with the Arab states, including Saudi Arabia,” Sullivan told reporters on Monday.

“We shouldn’t miss a historic opportunity to achieve the vision of a secure Israel flanked by strong regional partners, presenting a powerful front to deter aggression and uphold regional stability,” he added.

The same issues were discussed by Sullivan and Israel’s War Cabinet minister, Benny Gantz, in a phone call on Tuesday.

“In our call, I emphasized the imperative of increasing the international pressure on Hamas in addition to continuing the military pressure to secure an arrangement to return the hostages and remove the threat of Hamas,” Gantz wrote on 𝕏.

“We further discussed the efforts to reach an agreement to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, expand the regional alliance of moderates, and the subject of Gaza on ‘the day-after,’” he added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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