June 22, 2024

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Netanyahu allies lash out at Gantz over Washington trip

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s allies have lashed out at senior minister Benny Gantz for an upcoming visit to the White House, in a sign of growing strains within Israel’s war cabinet and in its relations with Washington.

Gantz, a former defence minister who joined Netanyahu’s coalition in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, said he told the prime minister on Friday of his plans to see senior US officials so that the two could “co-ordinate messaging”.

But in an indication of Netanyahu’s displeasure, the Israeli embassy in Washington was ordered to boycott Gantz’s meetings, according to one person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s allies accused Gantz of acting like a “Trojan horse” against Israeli interests.

The trip comes as American officials have indicated that US President Joe Biden is increasingly frustrated with Netanyahu, as their long-difficult relationship reaches a new low point amid Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

Some in the Biden administration prefer working with Gantz and view him as a good test of where the Israeli public stands on major policy issues, such as a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Gantz is set to hold meetings on Monday with US vice-president Kamala Harris and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, as well as senior Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Dudi Amsalem, a minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party known to be close to the premier, chided Gantz for violating government protocol, describing him as the person Americans probably see as “the address to lead the process of a Palestinian state and the cessation of fighting in Gaza”.

“You entered the emergency government to create a consensus during wartime . . . not to stop the [Israel Defense Forces] from winning the war,” he wrote on the social media platform…

2024-03-03 17:23:45

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