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US VP Harris reiterates push for Gaza ceasefire, more humanitarian aid during tense meetings with Gantz

National Security Advisor Sullivan asks for timetable for end to the war, detailed Rafah plans

Benny Gantz meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on March 4, 2024 (Vice President Kamala Harris/X)

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan sharply criticized the humanitarian situation and pressed for an end to the war in Gaza during tense meetings with Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz.

In their meeting in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Harris “welcomed Israel’s constructive approach to the hostage talks” but pushed for Israel to permit more humanitarian aid to reach civilians in the Gaza Strip.

She also reiterated her “deep concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the recent horrific tragedy around an aid convoy in northern Gaza,” according to a White House statement.

Gantz was surprised by the intensity of criticism and concern he heard during his meetings with Harris, Sullivan and U.S. President Joe Biden’s senior advisor on the Middle East, Brett McGurk, Israel’s Walla News reported.

“There is significant difficulty here that needs to be addressed,” an Israeli source familiar with the talks said.

Harris assured Gantz that while the Biden administration would continue to support Israel, it would need to do its part.

“Help us help you,” Harris said.

Sullivan and McGurk told Gantz that the Gaza Strip would need to be “drowned in aid,” according to Walla News and that it was up to Israel to figure out how to achieve it.

Sullivan also demanded that Israel present a specific timetable for an end to the war, which began on Oct. 7 with the surprise invasion of Israel's border and brutal terror attack and massacre.

Harris and Gantz also discussed the situation in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, the last major stronghold in which the IDF has not yet operated. Harris reiterated Washington's stance regarding “the need for a credible and implementable humanitarian plan prior to contemplating any major military operation there.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had instructed the IDF to prepare a plan for the evacuation of Gazan civilians from the area before the army began operating there.

However, the Biden administration doesn’t believe what it has heard so far from Israel’s government regarding the Israeli plans, Walla News reported.

According to reports, Harris, Sullivan and McGurk repeatedly queried Gantz about where the roughly one million Palestinian refugees would be relocated, casting doubt on Israel’s ability to move them out of harm's way.

The War Cabinet minister tried to convince his U.S. hosts that Israel would not begin its operation in Rafah before the evacuation of civilians and stressed that it was possible.

Gantz, the leader of the National Unity party, arrived in the U.S. on Sunday for a series of meetings with several high-profile representatives of the Biden administration.

Gantz will meet with State Secretary Antony Blinken on Tuesday before flying to London for further meetings with British officials.

The trip caused considerable turmoil in Israel’s government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reported to have been furious with Gantz.

According to a recent survey of Israelis, Gantz is leading Netanyahu in the polls by a wide margin.

As a consequence of failing to coordinate his trip with Netanyahu, Israel’s embassy in Washington was instructed not to assist in facilitating Gantz’s trip to Washington in any form.

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

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