Biden’s national security adviser spoke with Netanyahu about de-escalating Israel’s operations in Gaza

Amos Ben-Gershom/Israel Government Press Office/Handbook

U.S. National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Kirya in Tel Aviv on December 14, 2023.


President Joe Biden The National Security Adviser is meeting with top Israeli officials in the next two days The White House pushes the Israelis To be more precise in their actions against Hamas in Gaza.

Jack Sullivan is coming A general fissure was opened between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza and disagreements over what the future of the Palestinians should look like after hostilities end. Sullivan is also scheduled to discuss efforts to free eight American hostages held by Hamas.

Sullivan met with Netanyahu on Thursday and is scheduled to meet with other top Israeli officials, including President Isaac Herzog, through Friday.

Sullivan discussed shifting the Israeli offensive against Hamas to “less extreme measures” in the future, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.

Kirby said Sullivan asked “tough questions” about the Israeli attack, including attempts at surgery and precision in their targeting. Sullivan raised the imperative to move into a new phase of the conflict that has killed thousands of civilians in Gaza.

“He talked about a possible transition from what we call more extreme operations, which is what we’re seeing them do now, to less extreme operations at times, you know, in the future,” Kirby said.

The Biden administration has signaled to Israel to shift to a less intense phase of its war on Hamas within weeks — by the end of the year — according to a senior U.S. official.

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The US hopes that a new phase will reduce civilian deaths in Gaza, which have escalated and sparked international protests.

CNN reported last week US officials expect the current phase Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza The southern end of the Strip was targeted several weeks before Israel switched to a low-intensity, hyper-localized strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas fighters and leaders.

U.S. officials have said they know Israel will continue to follow the Hamas leadership and that it is important to them to oust the Hamas leadership. But they have continued to press Israel to take action to protect civilians while pursuing the group responsible for the October 7 terror attack.

But in a statement released after the meeting with Sullivan, Netanyahu said nothing less than a total victory against Hamas.

“Our valiant soldiers are not in vain,” the Israeli prime minister said. “From the deep pain of their fall, we are determined more than ever to continue fighting until Hamas is eliminated – and until total victory.”

At a meeting on Thursday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Sullivan that the war in Gaza would last “more than several months,” according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.

“It will take a period of time – it will last many months, but we will win, we will destroy them (Hamas),” Gallant said, according to a transcript of the meeting released by the Israeli Defense Ministry on Thursday. .

Gallant thanked Sullivan for American support for Israel’s campaign in Gaza, saying, “America and Israel have common interests, common values, and in this war, we share common goals.”

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According to a readout statement provided by Netanyahu’s office, the prime minister and Sullivan “reiterated their commitment to the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza.”

“We discussed continuing the war until both sides win and achieving common goals, first eliminating Hamas, freeing the hostages, eliminating Hamas’ military capabilities and ending its rule in Gaza,” Netanyahu said. A spokesman said at X.

Sullivan will have “very serious conversations” with Israeli officials during his visit, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a White House briefing on Wednesday. Kirby said Sullivan was working with the Israelis to “try to be more surgical and precise and try to minimize harm to civilians.”

Eight Americans were among more than 100 hostages taken by Hamas after the group’s October 7 attack on Israel. More than 1,200 Israelis and foreigners were killed in the attack.

Israel’s response killed more than 18,000 Palestinians and injured more than 50,000, according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

Biden met with family members of the eight American hostages at the White House on Wednesday.

Before he arrived in Israel, Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a person familiar with the matter said.

In Saudi Arabia, he planned to discuss the Biden administration’s broader diplomatic efforts to maintain stability in the region, including efforts to stem Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the official said. He sought to build on the work that had been underway before the October 7 attacks to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, including peace-building efforts with the Palestinians.

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