“Israel has one prime minister.” Gantz’s visit to Washington angers Netanyahu

Israeli media revealed that the visit by War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz to Washington to meet with a number of senior American officials on Sunday angered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who “did not authorize the trip and reprimanded him,” saying that the country has only one prime minister. .

The member of the Israeli Defense Cabinet is visiting Washington, D.C., to hold a series of meetings with American officials, according to a statement issued by his office on Saturday.

The statement said that Gantz is scheduled to meet, on Monday, US Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and will also meet with members of Congress from the Republican and Democratic parties.

He added that Gantz will also meet with senior members of the AIPAC lobby, a bipartisan pro-Israel political action committee.

While the statement indicated that “Gantz took the initiative and informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, personally, on Friday, that he intends to travel, to coordinate with him regarding the messages that will be presented during the meetings,” the newspaper reported.The Times of Israel“, that Netanyahu was not aware of the visit until the last call.

A source close to Netanyahu said that the Prime Minister “made it clear to Minister Gantz that the State of Israel has only one prime minister,” the website reported.Ynet“.

The source said that the trip was organized “without the approval of the Prime Minister and contravenes government regulations that require every minister to obtain prior approval to travel with the Prime Minister, including approval of the travel plan.”

According to The Times of Israel, Gantz, the military commander and former defense minister, remains Netanyahu’s main political rival, as opinion polls reveal.

Gantz brought his National Unity Party into the government, after the attack launched by Hamas on Israel last October 7, and the outbreak of war in Gaza.

Gantz was also scheduled to travel to London from Washington. Ynet reported that his political party was paying for the entire trip.

In the United States, Gantz intends to defend the legitimacy of the military operation in the Gaza Strip, strengthen security arrangements in Lebanon, as well as discuss efforts to reach an agreement to release the hostages, according to his office.

He will also hold talks on maintaining American aid to Israel and strengthening the strategic alliance between the two countries.

His visit to the United States comes at a time when the Biden administration is feeling increasingly frustrated with Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition, according to The Times of Israel.

Biden said in an interview on the American network “NBC” that the Israeli government “will lose international support if it continues its current extreme right-wing approach.”

A White House official confirmed that Gantz will meet with Harris and that the talks are expected to address topics including reducing Palestinian civilian casualties, securing a temporary ceasefire, releasing hostages held in Gaza, and increasing aid to the Strip.

Gantz warned earlier last month that if Hamas did not release all the hostages it was holding by the month of Ramadan, the Israeli army would launch a ground attack on Rafah, the city located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, where 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded, the majority of whom are displaced.

A White House official said Harris “will express her concern about the safety of up to 1.5 million people in Rafah,” adding that Israel also has “the right to defend itself in the face of Hamas’ ongoing terrorist threats.”

Israel is preparing to launch a major attack on the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, raising international concerns for the safety of civilians if the Israeli army attack continues. The United States called on Israel to provide evacuation routes to safe areas for civilians.

Harris and Gantz will also discuss post-war planning for revitalizing Gaza under Palestinian Authority rule, the White House official said.

On Saturday, the US army carried out the first airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza, while relief agencies warned of the worsening humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian Strip as Israel continues its attack.

On Friday, Biden revealed the US airdrop plans for aid, a day after the killing of dozens of Palestinians who were queuing to receive aid.

The health authorities in Gaza said that 118 Palestinians were killed in this incident by bullets from Israeli forces, describing it as a massacre.

Israel questioned the number of deaths, and said that most of them were crushed or crushed under the wheels of trucks as crowds flocked to them to get aid. An Israeli official also said that forces later opened fire on crowds they felt were threatening, saying “it was a limited response.”

Israel launched its military operations in Gaza in response to the Hamas attack on Israeli towns on October 7, which, according to Israeli statistics, led to the killing of 1,200 people and the kidnapping of 253 others.

International pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza increased, as the Palestinian authorities said that the number of Palestinian deaths since the October 7 attack had exceeded 30,000, and the United Nations warned that about a quarter of the Strip’s population was one step away from famine.

The United States and other countries expect to increase aid to Gaza after a temporary ceasefire, which Biden said on Friday that he hopes will happen by the month of Ramadan.

Two Egyptian security sources said on Saturday that truce talks in Gaza are scheduled to resume in Cairo on Sunday, but an Israeli news media outlet said that Israel will not send its delegation to the Egyptian capital until it obtains a complete list of the Israeli hostages who are still alive. Life, Reuters reported.

The two Egyptian sources added that the delegations of Israel and Hamas are expected to arrive in Cairo on Sunday.

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