Israel agrees to reschedule delegation visit to the White House: US official

Written by on March 27, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to reschedule his delegation’s visit to the White House after he canceled the trip on Monday, a U.S. official told ABC News on Wednesday.

“The prime minister’s office has agreed to reschedule the meeting dedicated to Rafah. We are now working to find a convenient date,” the official told ABC News.

Israel pulled its delegation earlier this week after the U.S. allowed, through abstention, for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza for the remaining days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — and potentially longer.

The resolution called for the unconditional release of hostages being held by Hamas terrorists, though it did not explicitly tie that with a temporary cease-fire. The resolution further urged that the humanitarian pause should then lead “to a lasting sustainable ceasefire.”

The White House said on Monday that it was “disappointed” and “kind of perplexed” that Israel canceled the delegation’s planned visit to the U.S.

The decision to reschedule came after several members of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet held “constructive discussions” with Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this week in Washington, D.C., the official said.

The official said that Rafah, a city in the south of Gaza bordering Egypt, was “one of the many topics discussed” during meetings with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA Director Bill Burns.

Netanyahu said that a victory against Hamas is “impossible” without the Israel Defense Forces entering Rafah to eliminate the rest of the terrorist group’s battalions.

Hamas waged an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which has led to months of conflict.

In the Gaza Strip, more than 31,000 people have been killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health. In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to Israeli officials.

The White House has said Biden has “deep concerns” Israel will not do enough to prevent civilian casualties as it goes after Hamas fighters in Rafah.

The Israeli military said that it plans to direct many of the displaced Palestinians living in Rafah toward “humanitarian islands” in the center of the territory ahead of any invasion.

ABC News’ Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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