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Business News/ News / World/  Israel Agrees to US Talks on Rafah After Scrapping Earlier Visit
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Israel Agrees to US Talks on Rafah After Scrapping Earlier Visit

The US and Israel agreed to hold an in-person meeting to discuss their dispute over an expected Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped an earlier visit amid increasingly sour ties.

Israel Agrees to US Talks on Rafah After Scrapping Earlier VisitPremium
Israel Agrees to US Talks on Rafah After Scrapping Earlier Visit

(Bloomberg) -- The US and Israel agreed to hold an in-person meeting to discuss their dispute over an expected Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped an earlier visit amid increasingly sour ties.

The meeting, which could take place as early as next week, was announced in a carefully worded readout from a video call of the two sides’ so-called Strategic Consultative Group. It said the US “expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah," while Israel “agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow up discussions between experts."

That appeared to mark a concession, however small, by Netanyahu, who has so far publicly dismissed US warnings about his plans for a full-scale attack on Rafah as part of his forces’ bid to root out Hamas militants in the wake of the group’s Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel. Hamas is designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

The US has urged Israel to protect the more than 1 million displaced Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, with Biden calling an invasion a “red line" and Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning an attack would worsen the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has insisted his forces will go ahead once they come up with a plan to remove civilians from the area.

The US team that attended Monday’s virtual meeting was led by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Blinken. Israel was represented by National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and Minster for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer.

The meeting was initially meant to take place in person, but Netanyahu told his delegation not to travel to Washington after the US declined to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 02 Apr 2024, 03:27 AM IST
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