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Unprecedented breakdown in Israel-US channels as Netanyahu bars ministers from visiting Washington

Under strict orders from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant did not go anywhere near Washington or the Pentagon on his US visit this week. “Such things have never happened,” a senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the inauguration of the new light rail line for the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, in Petah Tikva, on August 17, 2023. (Photo by AMIR COHEN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AMIR COHEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — Communication channels between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration are significantly troubled, as Israeli Cabinet ministers are still banned from meeting their American counterparts in Washington. The visit of Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to New York this week reflected that amply. 

Under strict orders from Netanyahu, Gallant did not go anywhere near Washington or the Pentagon on his visit. Nor did he meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan or with any of the US officials who manage the strategic alliance between the two countries. 

Normally, a ban imposed by an Israeli leader on a high-level US visit would have generated shocked headlines in Israel, but these are unusual times in Israel under the most hard-line government in its history. Gallant’s US trip, which included a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a fundraiser and a personal visit to his son who lives in the United States, did not elicit anything more than raised eyebrows. 

"Have never happened" before

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