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Israel calls on US to postpone canceled meeting on Rafah offensive plans

Israel calls on US to postpone canceled meeting on Rafah offensive plans

Israel’s military operation has killed more than 32,000 people (file)

Jerusalem:

Israel wants to postpone talks in Washington to discuss a possible offensive in the Gaza city of Rafah, days after it canceled the trip to protest a U.N. ceasefire resolution, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily canceled the visit on Monday after Israel’s closest ally, the United States, abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote, allowing the visit to pass and deepening discussion of a break with President Joe Biden .

But after the White House said it was “perplexed” by the move, Israel backed down.

“The Prime Minister’s Office has indicated that it would like to postpone the meeting dedicated to Rafah. We are now working with them to set a suitable date,” the senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The about-face came after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held “constructive discussions” with senior U.S. officials in Washington over the past two days, the official added.

“Rafah was one of the many topics discussed” in talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA chief Bill Burns and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Last week, Netanyahu agreed to a personal request from Biden to send a team to Washington to listen to U.S. concerns and discuss ways to target Hamas without a major ground operation in Rafah, which is overflowing with refugees .

But after the U.N. Security Council vote calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war, Israel said it was calling off and that the U.S. abstention was “harming” its war effort and its attempt to free hostages.

The White House said Monday it was “kind of perplexed” and “very disappointed” by the cancellation.

The United States also stressed that its abstention did not represent a change of course toward Israel.

But Biden has expressed increasing frustration with Netanyahu as the civilian death toll in Gaza rises and the humanitarian situation for Palestinians grows worse.

The US president was recently filmed on a hot mic saying he needed a “come to Jesus meeting” with the Israeli prime minister over the situation.

Israel launched a relentless offensive on Gaza after an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian group Hamas resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

It is believed that around 130 people are still being held hostage in Gaza following the attack.

According to the Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled territory, the Israeli military action killed more than 32,000 people, mostly women and children.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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