March 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel to Send Delegation to Washington to Discuss Rafah Operation

March 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel to Send Delegation to Washington to Discuss Rafah Operation

Latest Developments

The White House said on March 27 that senior Israeli officials agreed to reschedule a trip to Washington to discuss alternatives for a ground operation in Rafah. The move reverses Jerusalem’s March 25 decision to cancel the visit of an interagency delegation in response to America’s abstention from a UN Security Council resolution opposed by Israel. The resolution demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza that is not contingent on Hamas’s release of hostages. White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on March 27 that “the prime minister’s office said they want to reschedule this meeting” and that the Biden administration is “going to work with their teams to make sure that happens.”

Expert Analysis

“Netanyahu is correct to send a delegation to Washington to discuss the Rafah operation with the Biden administration. Keeping the United States on Israel’s side is critical for the Jewish state not just for the war in Gaza, but also as Jerusalem eyes all-out war with Hezbollah, which would be a more destructive confrontation that could bring other players to the battlefield.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“Even the impression of daylight between Washington and Jerusalem can be a boon for the enemies of America and Israel. The two allies need to hash out their disagreements in private, not in UN Security Council resolutions constraining Israel or public cancelations of delegations intended to improve U.S.-Israel coordination.” David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Israeli Plans for Rafah Receive U.S. Pushback

Israel remains committed to entering Rafah, a city in southern Gaza with four intact Hamas battalions. However, the United States maintains that Israeli plans to move ground forces into Rafah “will worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis” in the city, where more than 1 million civilians are sheltering. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on March 18 that “the key goals Israel wants to achieve in Rafah can be done by other means.” Vice President Kamala Harris said on March 24 that a major operation in Rafah would be a “huge mistake.”

Israeli Defense Minister Meets With Senior Biden Officials

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant concluded a visit to Washington on March 27, where he met with Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. While Gallant’s meetings were not intended to focus on Rafah, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on March 25 that he expected Rafah to “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. A senior Department of Defense official said Austin “presented the broad outlines of the Biden administration’s alternative approach to a major combat operation in Rafah,” The New York Times reported.

Senior Israeli Officials Cancel Upcoming Trip to Washington, FDD Flash Brief

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

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


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