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US VP Harris to meet Israeli war cabinet member on Monday

1 min

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House on Monday as Washington seeks to reach a deal for a temporary ceasefire and increase the flow of aid to Gaza.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Reuters/Leah Millis

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House on Monday as Washington seeks to reach a deal for a temporary ceasefire and increase the flow of aid to Gaza.

The talks, first reported by Reuters, are expected to span topics including reducing Palestinian civilian casualties, securing a temporary ceasefire, the release of hostages held in Gaza and increasing aid to the territory, a White House official said.

"The Vice President will express her concern over the safety of the as many as 1.5 million people in Rafah," the official said, adding that Israel also had a "right to defend itself in the face of continued Hamas terrorist threats."

A statement from Gantz confirmed that he would meet with Harris, as well as with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Republican and Democratic members of U.S. Congress.

"Minister Gantz personally updated the prime minister on his own initiative on Friday of his intention to travel, in order to coordinate the messages to be transmitted in the meetings," the statement said.

The White House official said Harris is also going to discuss the Biden administration’s willingness to do more to increase aid after airdrops that started on Saturday. They will also discuss planning for after the war ends to revitalize Gaza under the Palestinian Authority.

The U.S. military on Saturday carried out its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza and aid agencies warned of a growing humanitarian disaster in the Palestinian enclave as Israel pressed on with its offensive.

Israel launched the offensive in response to the Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel and another 253 abducted, according to Israeli tallies.

International pressure for a ceasefire has grown, with more than 30,000 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza offensive, according to Gaza health authorities, and the U.N. warning that a quarter of the population is one step away from famine.

The United States and other countries expect aid would be boosted by a temporary ceasefire, which President Joe Biden said on Friday he hoped would happen by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on March 10.

Gaza truce talks are due to resume in Cairo on Sunday, two Egyptian security sources said on Saturday, though an Israeli news outlet reported Israel would not send a delegation until it received a full list of Israeli hostages who are still alive.

The Egyptian sources said Israeli and Hamas delegations were expected to arrive in Cairo on Sunday.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in WashingtonAdditional reporting by Maayan Lubell in JerusalaemWriting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington

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