Netanyahu to Send Israeli Team to Washington to Discuss Rafah Plans

At the request of President Biden, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, agreed on Monday to send a team of officials to Washington to discuss alternatives to a promised Israeli invasion of Rafah, the city that has become the last refuge for roughly half of Gaza’s population, according to Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.

In a phone call on Monday, Mr. Biden told the Israeli leader that sending ground forces into Rafah, as Mr. Netanyahu has vowed repeatedly to do, could be disastrous when there are other options for defeating Hamas, Mr. Sullivan said.

“A major ground operation there would be a mistake,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters at the White House. “It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza and further isolate Israel internationally.”

Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Biden had asked Mr. Netanyahu to send a team of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington to hear U.S. concerns about Israel’s plans for Rafah, and to “lay out an alternative approach that would target key Hamas elements in Rafah and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground invasion.”

“The prime minister agreed that he would send a team,” he added. “Obviously he has his own point of view on a Rafah operation, but he agreed that he would send a team to Washington to have this discussion.”

During the call, Mr. Biden, who has been increasingly critical of Israel’s conduct of the war and the toll it has taken on civilians, expressed alarm that Israeli forces could repeat the pattern of destruction that has played out during major offensives in Gaza City and Khan Younis.

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