Yoav Gallant
Yoav GallantShachar Yurman

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday sought to downplay the recent tensions between the US and Israel, as he spoke to reporters in Washington following his meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Gallant, who was quoted by Reuters, said he stressed to Austin the importance of US ties to his country's security and of maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, including its air capabilities.

"We share 100% of the values and 99% of the interests with the United States," the Defense Minister said.

Gallant emphasized that while he had discussed humanitarian aid, he had also made clear Israel's plan to go ahead with efforts to destroy Hamas, saying it was necessary to deter "common enemies," an apparent reference to Iran.

The Pentagon said after Gallant’s meeting with Austin that the Secretary of Defense reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to an Israeli operation in Rafah.

“The Secretary stressed that the United States and Israel have a moral imperative and a shared strategic interest in safeguarding civilians, noting that operations in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and implementable plan that ensures the safety of and humanitarian support for civilians sheltering there,” said the statement.

Gallant also met on Tuesday met for a second day with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and later held talks with CIA Director William Burns, who recently returned from talks in Qatar on a deal that would see Hamas release the hostages it is still holding in Gaza.

On Monday, Gallant met in Washington with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement after the meeting that Blinken “reiterated the United States’ support for ensuring the defeat of Hamas, including in Rafah, while reiterating opposition to a major ground operation in Rafah that would further jeopardize the welfare of the more than 1.4 million Palestinian civilians sheltering there.”

“The Secretary underscored that alternatives exist to a major ground invasion that would both better ensure Israel’s security and protect Palestinian civilians. Secretary Blinken also discussed the need to immediately surge and sustain additional humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza,” the statement added.

The US administration has repeatedly stressed its opposition to an Israeli operation in Rafah. Blinken, who visited Israel just this past Friday, reiterated that the Biden administration opposes an Israeli operation in Rafah.

White House spokesperson John Kirby later said, "We believe a major ground offensive [in Rafah] is a mistake" and would be a "disaster".

US Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday told ABC News that she would not rule out "consequences" if Israel carried out a military operation in Rafah.