Israel could do better job connecting military strategy to a diplomatic one — Sullivan

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

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, April 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, April 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says Israel could do a better job connecting its military strategy to a broader diplomatic one.

“We believe the only way to defeat Hamas and [ensure] Israel’s long-term security is to connect the military effort to a holistic integrated strategy,” he says. “That’s something that we think Israel could be clearer about publicly as well as privately. We’ll continue to work on that,”

Sullivan highlights the US post-war plan that envisions Israel’s Arab neighbors assisting in the reconstruction of Gaza, while Israel agrees to a pathway to a Palestinian state and normalized relations with Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has largely snubbed this effort.

Meanwhile, he has come under fire for refusing to advance a viable alternative to Hamas, which has led the IDF to repeatedly return to areas in Gaza it previously cleared of Hamas fighters only to see terrorists quickly re-fill the vacuum.

While they too have not expressed support for Palestinian statehood, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz have called on Netanyahu to advance plans for who will replace Hamas in Gaza.

Sullivan appeared to welcome those comments. “You’re hearing senior voices inside the Israeli system speak to these issues. We think it’s a healthy debate because, at the end of the day, we know from our own experience that military force alone is not going to get the job done.”

The top Biden aide is asked about Israel’s increasing diplomatic isolation.

“We certainly have seen a growing chorus of voices, including voices that had previously been in support of Israel, drift in another direction. That is of concern to us because we do not believe that contributes to Israel’s long-term security or vitality,” Sullivan says.

“That’s something we discussed with the Israeli government… A strategic approach to defeating Hamas, protecting civilians, surging humanitarian assistance and then pursuing that vision of regional integration will put Israel in the best stead to engage countries around the world and revitalize a lot of the partnerships and friendships that have been a source of great strength for Israel over time,” he says.

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