An important visit to the White House

Gantz and Blinken. Wikipedia

On Monday, Minister Benny Gantz began a state visit to the United States, the first of this kind during his tenure in this government. The visit was initiated by Gantz, although it is not usually customary for a government minister to go for a diplomatic meeting without the approval of the Prime Minister – and this was indeed received with criticism by Netanyahu, but not with threats and prohibitions – because this trip has two significant goals:

First, emphasize the broad Israeli support for the continuation of the war. In the American media, there has been recently a widespread narrative that the war has been going on for a long time because of Netanyahu’s political interests (rather than due to public support) – and that under different leadership the war would have ended. Gantz (who, according to the polls, enjoys broader support than Netanyahu in Israel) is expected to make it clear to the Americans that continuing the war is an Israeli interest, and that there is no disagreement between him and Netanyahu on this matter.

Second, Gantz is expected to meet with Kamla Harris, the vice president of the United States (and given Biden’s age, it is quite possible that she may suddenly become president). On Monday, Harris told reporters that a ceasefire was needed in Gaza – and only later did she make it clear that hamas was preventing a temporary ceasefire in the negotiations for the release of hostages. The global and Arab media were quick to present the first part of the statement as a change in American policy to Israel; therefore, in her meeting with Gantz, it is made clear that the US position has not changed.

In addition to meeting with the Vice President, Gantz is expected to meet with Secretary of State Blinken and Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (a big fan of Israel, who recently announced his retirement after the election). On his return, Gantz will stop in London and meet with senior government officials, including David Cameron, former prime minister, and current foreign minister.

And as one comes, another goes – Foreign Minister Katz ordered our ambassador to the UN Gila’d Erden to return to Israel for a consultation (a diplomatic protest), after the publication of the report of Parmila Patten, the commissioner of the Bureau of Sexual Violence Prevention in Disputes. The report deals with charges against Hamas, and accepts Israel’s claims of vast atrocities; the ambassador has been returned as a protest that UN Secretary-General Guterres has not yet ordered steps or conferences to be taken due to the findings. This is an unusual protest in its intensity, and it is unclear whether Katz received permission to carry it out by Netanyahu.

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