Sullivan: War will last months, we’re not here to tell Israel what it must do

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, December 4, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, December 4, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

At a press conference, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says there is no disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington that the fight against Hamas in Gaza will take months, while adding that both sides agree that there will be a transition from the current high-intensity phase to one of precision operations.

“The White House has “had very good discussions” on the timeline and the transition to the next phases of the conflict,” but “We’re not here to tell anybody you must do X, you must do Y.”

Reports in recent days have claimed the White House is pressing Israel to end the current phase within weeks, due to concerns for the mounting civilian toll in the Strip.

He says in his meetings with Israeli leaders, “I did not hear [them]… say things that would lead me to feel I need to answer the hypothetical question” of how Washington will respond if the current phase drags on.

He adds that his Israeli counterparts “very much indicated” their goal to distinguish civilians from combatants and prevent harm to innocents.

As for who will govern Gaza after the war concludes, amid Israeli rejection of the current leadership in Ramallah, Sullivan does not comment on the rejection directly, but says: “We do believe that the Palestinian Authority needs to be revamped and revitalized, needs to be updated in terms of its method of governance, its representation of Palestinian people.

“That will require a lot of work by everybody who is engaged in the Palestinian Authority, starting with the President, Mahmoud Abbas, who I will go to see… And ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Palestinian people to work through their representation.”

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