ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Blinken to meet privately with IDF chief after PM initially rebuffed US request

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

This composite image shows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waving as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport late on February 6, 2024; and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi giving a statement to the media at a base in southern Israel on December 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool and Flash90)
This composite image shows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waving as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport late on February 6, 2024; and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi giving a statement to the media at a base in southern Israel on December 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool and Flash90)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold his first private meeting today with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office indicated that the premier had rebuffed the senior Biden administration official’s request for the tete-a-tete.

The Israel Hayom daily reported yesterday that Blinken requested the private meeting with Halevi, leading Netanyahu’s office to issue a statement saying the IDF chief would meet with the secretary as part of the premier’s talks with the top US diplomat.

During Blinken’s previous wartime visits, his only meetings with Halevi were as part of sit-downs with the war cabinet that the military chief took part in.

The request to meet Halevi privately suggests that Blinken believes he might give a more honest analysis of the current state of the war without ministers in the room.

Halevi’s is one of four meetings Blinken has scheduled for today, according to the State Department readout. He will first be meeting with Netanyahu at 11:15 a.m. followed by Halevi at 12:15 p.m., Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at 1:30 p.m. and President Isaac Herzog at 3 p.m.

With the meeting with Halevi on the agenda, there apparently is less of a need for a separate sit-down with the war cabinet.

Notably missing from the schedule is a meeting with war cabinet minister Benny Gantz or opposition leader Yair Lapid, though such sit-downs are not always included on the agenda, and there are still gaps in the schedule that would allow for them.

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