Blinken tells Israeli war cabinet Gaza war 'must end in weeks'

Blinken tells Israeli war cabinet Gaza war 'must end in weeks'
The report of the meeting comes as it increasingly looks like Israel will be conducting high-intensity operations in the Gaza Strip through into 2024, with the US giving Israel a deadline of January to end the war.
3 min read
07 December, 2023
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has visited Israel on four occasions, along with other US allies in the Middle East, since the start of the Gaza War [Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Israel's war cabinet that the war in Gaza should end in a matter of weeks during a meeting in Israel last week held prior to Israel's offensive into Khan Younis.

Blinken, who was on his fourth trip to Israel since the war began, spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet on Thursday 30 November to discuss Israel's plans for its ongoing ground operations in Gaza.

According to US officials cited by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Blinken told Israeli officials that the war should be over in weeks, rather than months as Israel had planned.

Likewise, US officials reiterated that they hoped highlighting the need to minimise civilian casualties, which Blinken said he brought up in the meeting in a following press conference, would persuade the Israeli military to do so.

According to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health ,16,015 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip, most of whom are women and children.

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US officials said that no consequences were attached to its calls for a reduction in civilian casualties nor a shorter war, and that US unconditional aid was not currently up for review.

The WSJ stated that Israeli officials had expressed interest in placing the country out of a war footing, particularly over fears surrounding the health of the Israeli economy.

Likewise, WSJ also reported that US officials warned Israel against conducting a retaliation against the Houthis in northern Yemen, in a bid to limit the expansion the conflict into the wider region.

The meeting was held prior to the start of an Israeli operation in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis on 1 December that is being conducted alongside continued operations in northern Gaza.

Earlier reports from Axios stated that the meeting saw a "frank exchange of views" between Blinken and members of the war cabinet over the length of the war, with Israel's military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi saying the war was likely to take longer than weeks.

The meeting also was reported to have seen Blinken warn Israel that a long war would see greater international pressure on Israel and the US to stop the war.

The scale of the response by Israel has seen a growth of international criticism against Israeli conduct in Gaza, particularly from Israel's neighbouring Arab states.

Israel's army is expected to see high-intensity combat throughout the Gaza Strip until early 2024, according to Israel's own plans as reported by the Financial Times.