Jan 30, 2024 - World

Scoop: Bibi's top confidant to visit White House for talks on Gaza war

Ron Dermer on Nov. 6, 2021. Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ron Dermer on Nov. 6, 2021. Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer is expected to visit Washington on Wednesday and meet White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior Biden administration officials for talks on the war in Gaza and Israel's plans for the day after the fighting ends, two sources briefed on the visit told Axios.

Why it matters: Dermer is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest and most trusted confidant. He has key insight into Netanyahu's thinking, including on the U.S.' post-war strategy of linking possible normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia to the creation of a pathway for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

  • Before the Oct. 7 attack, Dermer was in charge of Israel's part in the sensitive talks over the mega-deal the Biden administration attempted to reach with Saudi Arabia that included a peace deal between Israel and the kingdom.
  • The Biden administration's post-war strategy is likely to be part of Dermer's discussions at the White House, one of the sources said.
  • The White House and Dermer's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The big picture: Senior U.S. officials, including Sullivan and Secretary of State Tony Blinken, have publicly and privately pushed the administration's post-war strategy.

  • The Biden administration is hoping to use a potential historic peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia as leverage for getting Israel on board with its plan for Gaza after the war.
  • Under the U.S. strategy, Netanyahu would ultimately have to decide what kind of political hit, if any, to take domestically in order to get a historic normalization deal.

Yes, but: Netanyahu, who has long opposed a two-state solution, rejected calls for Palestinian sovereignty earlier this month.

  • His government includes ultranationalists who oppose even small overtures to the Palestinians. U.S. officials admit it's extremely unlikely they'd agree to a path toward a future Palestinian state.

What's next: Two Israeli officials said Blinken is planning to travel to Israel next week for his sixth visit since Oct. 7 in order to discuss the situation in Gaza and the day after the war.

  • The State Department declined to comment.
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