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Blinken meets with Israel’s gallant amid Netanyahu complaints

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met in Washington on Monday as the Biden administration struggles to forge a cease-fire in Gaza and prevent a war with Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

The meeting occurred after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly accused the US of withholding weapons as it pursues its Gaza campaign, which began nearly nine months ago with an assault on Israel by Hamas.

The White House has denied that weapons have been held back, and a State Department account of the Blinken-Gallant encounter did not mention the arms dispute.

Blinken, the department said, discussed efforts to free Israeli hostages and urged Gallant “to take additional steps to protect humanitarian workers in Gaza and deliver assistance throughout Gaza in full coordination with the United Nations.”

The secretary “also underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation of the conflict and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes.”

Earlier: Netanyahu Sees End to Weapons Dispute as Gallant Heads to US

US envoy Amos Hochstein traveled to the Middle East last week in a bid to ease tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, which are threatening to spiral into a full-blown war.

Gallant was also expected to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The Biden administration has become increasingly critical of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip to root out Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union. Some 37,000 people have been killed in the ensuing war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants.

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