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US security adviser urges Benjamin Netanyahu to connect war to political strategy

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to connect the war in Gaza to a “political strategy” for the territory’s future.

Jake Sullivan met Mr Netanyahu in Israel after holding talks in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. His intervention comes a day after war cabinet minister Benny Gantz threatened to quit if Mr Netanyahu did not come up with a post-war plan for Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu has so far not articulated a vision for what comes after the war, saying only that he is focused on “total victory”.

However there is a growing political rift in Israel over the issue, with Mr Gantz and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant arguing that Israel should not maintain military rule in Gaza while others, including far-right members of Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, say continued control is necessary to defeat Hamas.

President Joe Biden

Mr Sullivan “reaffirmed the need for Israel to connect its military operations to a political strategy that can ensure the lasting defeat of Hamas, the release of all the hostages, and a better future for Gaza,” a White House statement said.

The US national security advisor also spoke with Mr Netanyahu about his talks in Saudi Arabia and “the potential that may now be available for Israel, as well as the Palestinian people”.

The Biden administration has been working on a possible deal that would include Saudi-Israeli normalisation and a commitment to pursuing a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians – the long-held international formula for peace.

Meanwhile fighting continues to rage in Gaza. The UN says about 800,000 people, many of whom have been displaced multiple times over seven months of war, have left the southern Gaza city of Rafah where Israel has launched a military operation targeting what it says is Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza.

However the Israeli military has also launched incursions targeting what it says is a renewed Hamas presence in parts of northern Gaza that it previously said it had cleared of the armed group. Jake Sullivan urged Mr Netanyahu to connect the war to a ‘political strategy’ for Gaza, the White House says
On Sunday the Hamas-run civil defence agency in Gaza said an Israeli air strike on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza had killed 31 people and wounded 20.

Eyewitness Yasser Abu Oula told AFP that an entire residential complex “was destroyed” and “there are still bodies under the rubble”. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was checking the reports.

The IDF also said it had struck dozens of targets in Gaza including in Rafah, and had engaged in fierce battles in Jabalia in northern Gaza. It said that two soldiers were killed fighting in the south on Saturday.

The US has long warned Israel against conducting a full-scale military incursion into Rafah without a plan to protect civilians, which the US says has not been provided.

The White House has previously said that it would stop supplying some weapons if Israel launches a major ground offensive on the city.

However an Israeli official told Reuters news agency that Mr Netanyahu and his senior aides would try to reach an agreement with Mr Sullivan that a full push into Rafah was needed.

In his intervention, Mr Gantz set an 8 June deadline for a plan to achieve six “strategic goals”, including the end of Hamas rule in Gaza and the establishment of a multinational civilian administration for the territory.

Mr Netanyahu dismissed Mr Gantz’s comments, saying they would lead to “defeat for Israel” and “the establishment of a Palestinian state”, which he opposes.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s attack on southern Israel last year, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage. More than 35,456 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry

Source: BBC

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