Israeli defense minister urges close cooperation with US in visit

AFP , Monday 24 Jun 2024

Israel's defence minister on Monday urged close cooperation with the United States after strains in the relationship and vowed during a visit to Washington to work to bring back captives from Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrives at the US Department of State ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, DC. AFP


Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with CIA chief Bill Burns, the key US pointman in negotiations to free captives, and later went into talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We will continue to make every possible effort to bring them home," Gallant said refering to the captives.

President Joe Biden on May 31 laid out a plan for a ceasefire in Gaza and release of captives, ahead of talks on ending the war.

Hamas has come back with its own demands, and the United States hopes the gaps can be bridged.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has faced major protests calling for him to accept the deal, in recent days has annoyed the Biden administration by accusing Washington of cutting back arms and ammunition deliveries.

Gallant took a different tack, saying, "The alliance between Israel and the United States, led by the US over many years, is extremely important."

Other than Israel's own military, "our ties with the US are the most important element for our future from a security perspective," he said.

Biden, who has faced criticism from parts of his own base over his support for Israel, held back a shipment that included heavy 2,000-pound bombs.

But US officials say that Washington has otherwise kept up the flow of weapons.

Gallant is also expected to meet in Washington with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, senior White House official Brett McGurk and Amos Hochstein, who is focusing on tensions over Lebanon.

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