Focus shifts to Netanyahu’s plans for Hezbollah after war in Gaza ends: Latest news

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of Israel (center) in Washington on Monday.Credit…Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Israel’s Defense Minister met with the CIA Director on Monday morning in Washington and is expected to sit down with the Secretary of State, as the United States works to stop Israel’s new military effort in Lebanon.

Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant was scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at 1 p.m. after meeting with CIA Director William J. Burns earlier on Monday, officials said.

The visit comes at a critical time for Israel and the war in Gaza. The fate of the ceasefire that freed the hostages remains unclear, fears of bitter fighting between Hezbollah and Israel are growing, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the tense period of Israel’s war against re-Hamas in the Gaza Strip “is about to end”. end.”

Monday’s meetings will focus on all three issues, with US officials seeking clarity on the Israeli government’s intentions with a possible ceasefire and whether leaders Israel is considering a new offensive against Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, military action that Washington fears could draw the United States into a broader regional war.

Mr. Gallant is also scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Tuesday and with President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Wednesday.

Early in the war, Mr. Gallant publicly outlined a three-phase battle plan for Gaza, including intense air strikes against Hamas targets and infrastructure; a phase of ground operations aimed at “eliminating pockets of resistance”; and the third phase will create “a new security reality for the Israeli people.” He said over the weekend that his meetings in Washington would discuss “the transition to ‘Phase C’ in Gaza.”

Anti-government protesters called on the Israeli cabinet to sign a hostage agreement and hold early elections in Tel Aviv on Saturday.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu left ambiguity all around How his government hoped the war would end. In an interview with Israeli television, he at one point said he was willing to agree to a temporary truce and release some hostages in Gaza, then resume the war. That appears to contradict Israel’s proposal – endorsed by Mr Biden and the UN Security Council – for a phased deal that would release all Israeli hostages there and lead to a permanent ceasefire far.

Netanyahu also continued to reject a proposal pushed by the Biden administration to hand over Gaza Palestinian authoritiesa Western-backed regime lost control of the region in 2007 and exercises limited rule in parts of the occupied West Bank.

One question is how a temporary or permanent ceasefire in Gaza might affect tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, a powerful militia, and the Iran-backed Lebanese political faction.

Two conflicts intertwined: Hezbollah begins cross-border attacks into northern Israel in support of Hamas after Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in response to a Hamas-led attack on October 7 aimed at Israel. Analysts have believes that it is difficult to reach an agreement to end the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as long as the war in Gaza continues.

Escalating firepower across the Israel-Lebanon border in recent weeks has raised fears that the fighting could develop into all-out war. Over the weekend, the Israeli military said it killed a militant in an airstrike deep inside Lebanon. Lebanese state media reported that the Israeli strike hit a village about 25 miles from the border.

On Sunday, Mr. Gallant met with Amos Hochstein, a Biden adviser who oversaw previous negotiations between Israel and Lebanon in Washington. Mr. Hochstein was met Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem less than a week earlier, when the Israeli military warned that cross-border attacks by Hezbollah against Israel risked triggering a wider confrontation.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Sunday that an Israeli military strike in Lebanon would risk triggering an Iranian response, according to AP news agency.


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