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Harris to Meet With Israeli Official   03/04 06:44

   Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday is hosting a member of Israel's 
wartime Cabinet who is visiting Washington in defiance of Israeli Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday is hosting a 
member of Israel's wartime Cabinet who is visiting Washington in defiance of 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

   Benny Gantz, a centrist political rival of Netanyahu, is sitting down with 
several senior Biden administration officials this week, including Harris, 
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the White House national 
security adviser. President Joe Biden is at Camp David, the presidential 
retreat just outside Washington, until Tuesday.

   An official from Netanyahu's far-right Likud party said Gantz did not have 
approval from the prime minister for his meetings in Washington and that 
Netanyahu gave the Cabinet official a "tough talk" -- underscoring the widening 
crack within Israel's wartime leadership nearly six months into the 
Israel-Hamas war.

   In her meeting with Gantz, Harris plans to press for a temporary cease-fire 
deal that would allow for the release of several categories of hostages being 
held by Hamas. Israel has essentially agreed to the deal, according to a senior 
Biden administration official, and the White House has emphasized that the onus 
is on Hamas to come on board.

   "Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate 
cease-fire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the 
table," Harris said during an appearance in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday. "This 
will get the hostages out and get a significant amount of aid in."

   Harris continued: "This would allow us to build something more enduring to 
ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to 
dignity, freedom and self-determination."

   For his part, Gantz intends to strengthen ties with the U.S., bolster 
support for Israel's war and push for the release of Israeli hostages, 
according to a second Israeli official. The officials spoke on condition of 
anonymity because they weren't allowed to publicly discuss the disputes within 
the Israeli government.

   The meetings also come as the U.S. begins a series of airdrops of aid into 
Gaza, just days after dozens of Palestinians were killed as they were trying to 
get food from an Israel-organized convoy. The first drop on Saturday included 
about 38,000 meals into southwest Gaza, and White House officials have said 
those airdrops will continue to supplement truck deliveries, while they also 
work on sending aid via sea.

   In Selma on Sunday, Harris called on Israel to "do more to significantly 
increase the flow of aid."

   "No excuses," she said. "They must open new border crossings. They must not 
impose any unnecessary restrictions on the delivery of aid."

   Harris previously met Gantz at the Munich Security Conference in 2022.

 
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