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Israel Agrees To Take US Concerns Over Rafah Into Account: Statement

02.04.2024 00:57

Follow up discussions would include in person meeting as early as next week, says joint statement.

Israel has agreed to take US concerns over a potential military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah into account, said a joint statement following a virtual meeting Monday between officials from both sides.

During a video conference, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan together with Secretary of State Antony Blinken convened the Strategic Consultative Group (SCG) with Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, said the statement.

"The Israeli side agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow-up discussions between experts, overseen by the SCG. The follow-up discussions would include an in-person SCG meeting as early as next week," said the statement.

The two sides, represented by experts and senior officials from across their respective inter-agencies, "had a constructive engagement on Rafah" over the course of two hours, according to the statement.

"They agreed that they share the objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah. The U.S. side expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah," it added.

The talks were initially planned in person before the US abstained from a UN Security Council resolution that called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that US and Israeli officials were meeting virtually to discuss Israeli plans for an operation in Rafah.

Rafah is home to approximately 1.4 million Palestinians, the majority of whom have been displaced in the latest six months of intensified Israeli army bombardments.

Despite growing international opposition to Israeli plans to invade Rafah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to launch a ground attack on the city.

Washington is urging Israel not to proceed without a plan to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians. -

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