In Flash Visit, Gantz Meets With Biden Officials in Washington

Defense Minister Gantz says he is looking forward to continuing discussions about 'the challenges that we have with Iran, the Palestinians as far as Gaza is concerned'

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, Thursday
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, ThursdayCredit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met Thursday with Biden administration officials in a flash 24-hour visit.

Gantz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered short statements to the press before their meeting. Blinken noted that the State Department is "very happy" to have the opportunity to continue the conversation with Gantz that began in Israel last week, regarding the United States' "enduring commitment to Israel's security," and "some of the needs that Israel has in that regard."

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Blinken also said that the two aim to talk "about the work that needs to be done to move forward on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction for Gaza and for Palestinians living there, and to look across the board at the many issues that we have on our agenda."

Speaking after Blinken, Gantz conveyed "Israel's appreciation for the administration, for the president, for [Blinken], for the ongoing support which is very important for us in our challenging area."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, last month, during Blinken's visit to IsraelCredit: Alex Brandon / Reuters

The defense minister added that he is looking forward to continuing discussions about "the challenges that we have with Iran, the Palestinians as far as Gaza is concerned. We do look for stability and prosperity for everybody. And as defense minister, the combination between moving forward with construction and making sure that everything stays secure, it's very important for me."

Also on Thursday, Gantz met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Earlier on Thursday, Gantz met with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, where the defense minister said they discussed "the need to promote regional stability by halting Iranian aggressiveness, while strengthening the alliance of moderates, and protecting Israel’s QME."

The National Security Council said after the meeting that Sullivan had "reaffirmed President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself and commitment to strengthening all aspects of the U.S.-Israel security partnership, including support for the Iron Dome system."

Sullivan also highlighted the importance of ensuring that “immediate humanitarian aid is able to reach the people of Gaza.”

Israeli officials have previously said reconstruction efforts cannot begin "without resolving the issue of the return of Israeli MIAs and civilians" believed to be held by Hamas. Democrats in both houses of Congress have urged for immediate action to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

Also Thursday, the White House said that Israel will remain an important strategic partner for the U.S. Asked whether U.S. policy would change if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was replaced after his 12-year run as premier, press secretary Jen Psaki said:
"Israel will remain an important strategic partner, one where you have an abiding security relationship, and that will continue."

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price also reiterated on Thursday that the United States "ironclad" support for Israel will continue regardless of what government is in place.

Gantz also met Thursday with officials from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington. Gantz said they "talked about the dramatic shifts in the Israeli political sphere, but, more importantly, about the concern for the safety of Jews everywhere, which unites us all." He added that "helping Israel stay strong in the face of threats and protecting Jewish communities around the world from rising antisemitism and intolerance are goals we will continue to pursue together."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that Israel plans to ask for a billion dollars in urgent aid following the latest round of fighting with Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip last month.

“There's going to be a request by the Israelis to the Pentagon for a billion dollars in aid to replenish the Iron Dome batteries that were used to defend Israel,” Graham told Fox & Friends in an interview from southern Israel.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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