US and Israeli officials to hold talks on Rafah military op dispute

| | washington
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US and Israeli officials to hold talks on Rafah military op dispute

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 | AP | washington

American and Israeli officials are holding virtual talks Monday to discuss the potential expansion of Israel’s war against Hamas to the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a move the US opposes on humanitarian grounds.

 A US official confirmed the officials would meet by secure video conference on Monday, a week after planned in-person talks were nixed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the US didn’t veto a UN resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said the US anticipates that “expert teams” will follow up on the talks in person.

President Joe Biden and his administration have publicly and privately urged Israel for months to refrain from a large-scale incursion into Rafah — where more than 1.3 million civilians are estimated to have fled from other parts of Gaza — without a credible plan to relocate and safeguard noncombatants.

Netanyahu has insisted that Israel must be able to enter the city as it has the rest of the territory in order to root out Hamas’ remaining brigades, as Israeli forces try to eradicate the group after the October 7 attack on Israel.

 The potential operation in the city has exposed one of the deepest rifts between Israel and its closest ally, funder and arms supplier.

The US has already openly said Israel must do more to allow food and other goods through its blockade of Gaza to avert famine.

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