Israel tries to appease US with proposals for Gaza as Blinken heads to Middle East

Israel tries to appease US with proposals for Gaza as Blinken heads to Middle East

Israeli officials are scrambling to head off mounting frustration in Washington in the run-up to a potentially difficult meeting between the top US diplomat and Benjamin Netanyahu by offering a series of policy proposals on Gaza that critics say lack detail or commitment.

The US has offered staunch support to Israel since the outbreak of its war with Hamas three months ago but is anxious to secure some concessions from Netanyahu to lower regional tensions and help avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, arrived in Turkey on Friday to begin a week-long Middle East tour. During his upcoming visit to Israel, Blinken is expected to put pressure on Netanyahu to do more to protect civilians in Gaza, allow more aid to reach the territory and rein in outspoken far-right ministers who have called for the mass resettlement of Palestinians – rhetoric that the US has condemned as inflammatory and irresponsible.

Netanyahu has also angered Washington by so far refusing to engage in any detailed planning for the governance of Gaza when Israel’s military offensive ends and by rejecting the US’s preferred options.

In recent days, senior Israeli ministers have rushed to offer some postwar proposals and to repeat earlier promises that the Israeli military would transition to tactics less costly to civilians.

On Thursday, the Israeli defence minister suggested that Israel would keep security control of Gaza but with an undefined, Israeli-guided Palestinian body running day-to-day administration and the US, the EU and regional partners taking responsibility for the reconstruction of the territory.

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