Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his team meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his team in Tel Aviv, Oct. 16, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense.
An Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman refused to confirm to JNS on Sunday the report of a tense exchange last week between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and members of Israel’s War Cabinet.
In a leaked though unverified part of the Nov. 30 meeting reported by Channel 12, Blinken said that Israel doesn’t have months to deal with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, apparently suggesting that international support wouldn’t hold for that length of time.
His comment came in response to a remark by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
“All of Israeli society is united around the goal of dismantling Hamas—even if it takes months,” said Gallant.
To which Blinken replied: “I don’t think you will have the credit for that.”
Asked by JNS about the exchange, PMO spokesman Eylon Levy said, “We’re not going to comment on remarks that may or may not have been made behind closed doors in sensitive diplomatic discussions.”
However, he said Israel and the U.S. “see eye-to-eye about the goals of this war,” including the eventual “end of Hamas.”
Levy stressed that Washington stands behind Israel’s decision to resume hostilities after Hamas broke a week-long ceasefire on Friday.
(Israel renewed its offensive in Gaza after Hamas refused to hand over more of the women among the remaining 137 hostages, per the truce agreement.)
Levy referred to a Nov. 18 op-ed in The Washington Post by President Joe Biden, in which the American leader outlined a future without Hamas’s “violence and hate.”
Biden said the war “must end with a new reality in the Gaza Strip such that neither Gaza nor the West Bank … can ever again pose, or serve, as a base for terror attacks against the Israeli people. This has gone on for too long. And with this war, it will end,” Levy said.
On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out Israel’s war goals as threefold: 1) return all the hostages; 2) destroy Hamas; and 3) ensure that Gaza never again becomes a threat to Israel, that “there will be no element there that educates its children for terrorism, supports terrorism, finances terrorism and calls for the destruction of Israel.”