US says Blinken will emphasize to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan

By Thomson Reuters Jun 24, 2024 | 1:52 PM

By Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday will emphasize to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant the importance of Israel swiftly developing a robust and realistic plan for the governance of Gaza for when the war is over, the U.S. State Department said.

Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a press briefing the top U.S. diplomat will also discuss with Gallant, who is visiting Washington this week and meeting with senior U.S. officials, the need to avoid further escalation of the Gaza conflict and to improve humanitarian access.

“We look to make progress on all of these issues,” Miller said.

Gallant came to the State Department moments before his schedule meeting with Blinken at 1 p.m. A small group of protesters outside the building chanted while holding a Palestinian flag as he entered.

He described his meetings in Washington, including the one with Blinken as “critical”, according to comments released by his office.

“The meetings we are holding are extremely important and impactful on the future of the war in Gaza and our ability to achieve the goals of the war, on developments on the northern border, and other areas,” Gallant said.

Washington has repeatedly urged Israel to craft a post-war plan for Gaza and warned that the absence of it could trigger lawlessness and chaos as well as a comeback by Hamas in the enclave. To date, Israel is yet to present such a plan.

“We have been quite consistent that for there to be an enduring defeat of Hamas, there needs to be a plan for what replaces them and what replaces that needs to be Palestinian-led governance, needs to be realistic security plans,” Miller said, repeating that Washington was against Israel reoccupying Gaza.

He added there was still no agreement with Israel on the issue even if Israel was telling Washington that it was getting close to ending major combat operations in Rafah.

“We do not want to see them reoccupy Gaza, which is why we continue to push for an alternative to that,” Miller said.

Aside from Blinken, Gallant met with Amos Hochstein and Brett McGurk, senior advisers to U.S. President Joe Biden as well as CIA Director Bill Burns. He is set to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday.

The war started when Palestinian Hamas militants burst over the border and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has left Gaza in ruins.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)