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Israeli War Cabinet Member to Meet With UK Foreign Secretary


A top member of Israel’s war cabinet was to meet with Britain’s foreign secretary on Wednesday amid growing concern from Israel’s allies about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the need for a pause in fighting.

The Israeli cabinet member, Benny Gantz, a former army chief and a top political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was scheduled to visit London a day after holding closed-door meetings in Washington with officials and political leaders including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. On his trip to Washington, Mr. Gantz also met with Vice President Kamala Harris — who praised Israel’s “constructive approach” to seeking a six-week cease-fire but urged the government to do more to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza — and with Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser.

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, had strong words for Israel before his meeting with Mr. Gantz. In a debate before the House of Lords on Tuesday, Mr. Cameron said that he intended to convey to Mr. Gantz that Israel needed to do more to increase the aid reaching Gaza to address the “dreadful suffering” in the territory.

“Patience needs to run very thin, and a whole series of warnings need to be given” to Israel, he said. “Israel is the occupying power, and it is responsible.”

The high-level meetings in Washington rankled Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies, exposing deepening divisions among the leaders shepherding Israel’s war in Gaza.

Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu belong to different parties and have often sat on opposing sides of issues. But after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, Mr. Gantz joined Mr. Netanyahu’s emergency war cabinet.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office has said it did not approve Mr. Gantz’s travel to Washington. The far-right Israeli finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Knesset TV on Monday that it was “too bad” the trip had not been coordinated with the prime minister, adding: “We must show unity and speak with one voice to the whole world.”

In Washington, Mr. Austin asked for Mr. Gantz’s support to enable more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza and emphasized the need for a plan to protect civilians before Israel pushes into Rafah, in the territory’s south, the Pentagon said in a summary of the meeting. Mr. Blinken pressed on Mr. Gantz the importance of reaching an agreement soon on the release of hostages and a pause in fighting, and urged Israel to open additional border crossings to facilitate getting supplies into the territory, according to the State Department.

John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, responded to a reporter’s question about whether Mr. Gantz’s meetings were a snub to the Netanyahu government by saying they had been requested by Mr. Gantz.

“It was a good opportunity to have a discussion with the war cabinet about the way in which we’re supporting Israel and the things that we want to see Israel do,” Mr. Kirby said.

Adam Sella contributed reporting.



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