‘Immense suffering’: US Vice President calls for Gaza ceasefire

US Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday is hosting a member of Israel’s wartime Cabinet in Washington on Monday. 

Benny Gantz, a centrist, will sit down with several senior officials in the US government,  in defiance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not authorise the trip. 

An official from Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party said Israel’s PM had a “tough talk” with Gantz about the visit, highlighting the growing cracks within the Israeli Cabinet nearly six months into the country’s war with Hamas. 

In her meeting with Gantz, Harris plans to press for a temporary ceasefire deal that would allow for the release of certain hostages still held by Palestinian militants. 

Israel has essentially agreed to the deal, according to a senior US official. It is now up to Hamas to decide, they added. 

“Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table,” Harris said on Sunday. “This will get the hostages out and get a significant amount of aid in.”

Harris continued: “This would allow us to build something more enduring to ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to dignity, freedom and self-determination.”

For his part, Gantz intends to strengthen ties with the US, bolster support for Israel’s war and push for the release of Israeli hostages, according to a second Israeli official. 

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t allowed to publicly discuss disputes within the Israeli government.

The meetings come amid US airdrops of aid into Gaza, just days after scores of Palestinians were shot and killed as they tried to get food from an Israel-organised convoy.

On Sunday, Harris called on Israel to “do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.”

“No excuses,” she said. “They must open new border crossings. They must not impose any unnecessary restrictions on the delivery of aid.”

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