March 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

Senior Israeli Officials Cancel Upcoming Trip to Washington

March 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

Senior Israeli Officials Cancel Upcoming Trip to Washington

Latest Developments

Senior Israeli officials on March 25 canceled a planned trip to Washington after the United States abstained from a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution opposed by Israel. Jerusalem planned to send an interagency delegation to Washington to discuss options for attacking Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza, with Biden administration officials. However, the U.S. decision to abstain from the UN vote, allowing the ceasefire resolution to pass, prompted Jerusalem to call off the visit. “Regrettably, the United States did not veto the new resolution, which calls for a ceasefire that is not contingent on the release of hostages,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office stated on March 25. “This constitutes a clear departure from the consistent U.S. position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war.”

Expert Analysis

“Since October 7, Israel has worked closely with the Biden administration while prosecuting the war. In doing so, Israel has made compromises in its tactics and strategy. In return, the United States has continued to arm Israel and has defended Israel at the United Nations. But by failing to protect the Jewish state at the latest UN Security Council vote, Washington has changed the equation and delivered a warning to Jerusalem. Netanyahu must now recalibrate and decide what his next move is given the shifting sands in Washington.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“By allowing the Security Council resolution to pass, the Biden administration conveyed that Hamas’s human shields strategy is working and that allies should be wary of relying on U.S. support. But at the same time, Washington and Jerusalem cannot afford to let this tiff shake their unshakeable bonds.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

U.S. Opposition to Rafah Operation

Israel remains committed to entering Rafah, a city in southern Gaza with four intact Hamas battalions. However, Israeli plans to move ground forces into Rafah have encountered fierce Western and Arab resistance due to the presence of more than one million civilians sheltering there. On March 15, Netanyahu said he had given the green light for a military operation in Rafah and that preparations were being made in parallel to evacuate civilians.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on March 18 that sweeping Rafah will “worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis” and that “the key goals Israel wants to achieve in Rafah can be done by other means.” On the same day, President Joe Biden requested that Netanyahu send an interagency delegation to Washington — now canceled — to discuss possible alternatives to a major military operation in Rafah. Vice President Kamala Harris said on March 24 that a major operation in Rafah is a “huge mistake.”

Israeli Defense Minister in Washington

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant flew to Washington on March 24, reportedly to request expedited shipments of weapons systems from the United States. Gallant’s visit is independent of the delegation that Biden requested on March 18 and is his first to the United States as Israel’s defense minister. Gallant met with Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 25 and with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on March 26.

While Gallant’s meetings were not intended to focus on Rafah, Kirby said on March 25 that he anticipates “Rafah will come up in the context of these conversations.” Sullivan later said on X that he spoke with Gallant about “how best to ensure Hamas’ lasting defeat in Gaza.” Blinken also “reiterated the United States’ support for ensuring the defeat of Hamas, including in Rafah, while reiterating opposition to a major ground operation in Rafah,” according to a State Department readout. Austin said he would raise alternative ways for Israel to dismantle Hamas in Rafah during his meeting with Gallant.

Israeli Defense Minister Visits Washington to Push for Expedited Military Aid,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Abstains From Ceasefire Resolution at UN Security Council,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli, U.S. Officials to Meet in Washington to Discuss Rafah Operation,” FDD Flash Brief


Israel Israel at War