Top Israeli official expected to meet with Biden officials, members of Congress: report

Top Israeli official expected to meet with Biden officials, members of Congress: report

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest aide is expected to meet with senior Biden administration officials and lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday, Axios reported, as the U.S. continues to press Israel to scale back its military operation in Gaza.

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer will meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and members of Congress, Axios reported. 

The meeting comes as tensions continue to rise between Washington and the Israeli government over the best course of action for the Israel-Hamas war. As international pressure for a cease-fire to assist Gaza civilians increases, the U.S. has urged the Israeli military to stop its all-out assault on southern Gaza amid a rising civilian death toll.

Over 20,000 Palestinians have died in the war, about 70 percent of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and nearly the entirety of the territory’s 2.3 million population has been displaced and is in dire need of aid, the United Nations said.

Netanyahu said Monday that the war against Hamas in Gaza “will be long,” adding that it is “not close to ending.”

The prime minister also pledged to again ratchet up strikes on Gaza as the country’s offensive continues, going directly against the advice of the Biden administration and European governments.

Netanyahu said an increased offensive is the best way to ensure the release of an estimated 100 Israeli hostages still kept by Hamas, though U.S. military leaders have said the opposite.

Biden administration officials are also expected to press Dermer on the country’s post-war plans for Gaza. 

The U.S. and its Arab allies have pressed for an independent Palestinian government, likely led by the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority, but Israel has rejected proposals for Palestinian Authority control and pledged a military occupation of the territory.

Airstrikes continued into the early hours of Christmas Day in Gaza, where about 70 people were killed at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The ministry claimed over 100 people were killed in strikes across Gaza on Monday.

“What is happening at the Maghazi camp is a massacre that is being committed on a crowded residential square,” Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said.

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