Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer will meet with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Tuesday, a White House National Security Council spokesperson confirmed.
Dermer, a close ally and confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “is meeting with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan this afternoon for face-to-face consultations on a number of matters related to the conflict in Gaza and the return of hostages held by Hamas,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Tuesday in a statement to The Hill.
Axios earlier reported the meeting with Dormer and Biden administration officials was set to take place Tuesday. It comes as the administration has sought to pressure Netanyahu’s government to scale back its bombardment of Gaza.
The Israeli assault, launched in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters, is estimated to have killed more than 20,000 Palestinians, according to numbers from the Gaza Health Ministry. The United Nations has warned that without allowing aid into the territory, those still in Gaza will also face continual threats of starvation, illness and displacement.
Netanyahu has publicly spurned the idea of a drawdown despite pressure from U.S. and European officials, saying Monday that the attack on Gaza is “not close to ending.”
“Whoever talks about stopping, there is no such thing,” he said Monday during a visit to Gaza.
Hamas has released 110 of the hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack so far, with many of the releases occurring during a November temporary cease-fire brokered by the U.S. Israeli officials have said Hamas still holds 129 hostages, including 21 Israelis believed to be dead in that figure. The Israeli military confirmed in mid-December that Israeli military soldiers accidentally shot and killed three hostages.