Report: U.S. Opposes Linking Gaza Reconstruction to Returning IDF Soldiers

YERUSHALAYIM -
President Joe Biden meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Bennett-Lapid government’s policy of conditioning reconstruction of Gaza on the return of the bodies of the fallen IDF soldiers held by Hamas has encountered an obstacle: the United States.

The Biden administration is opposed to the condition, according to a report in The Times of Israel on Tuesday citing two Western diplomats as sources.

The “hardened position of the new Israeli government” concerns Washington, as it could lead to a breakdown of talks and renewed violence.

The Biden administration was described as sympathetic to the Israeli view, though, and plans to ensure that the issue is raised in Cairo, according to a source familiar with the matter.

An Israeli official said that U.S. opposition to the new Israeli policy could itself be an impediment to negotiations.

President Reuven Rivlin made a personal appeal to President Joe Biden during his White House visit on Monday, according to a diplomatic official who was there, though Biden’s response was not reported.

Rivlin was expected to speak on the issue at the U.N. later on Tuesday.

The State Department did not respond to a request from the Times for comment.