The administration of US President Joe Biden has given Israel until the end of the year to wrap up its war on Hamas, Politico reported on Friday, citing three Israeli officials.
According to the report, that deadline that was underlined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Israel this week.
When Israeli officials outlined their plans to the top US diplomat, stating that fighting in southern Gaza would last several months, Blinken reportedly tersely retorted, “You don’t have that much credit,” according to Politico.
A senior Israeli official told the website, “They advised us not to go into Gaza, but we did.”
“We went into Gaza because that was the only way we could destroy Hamas and free our hostages. They told us, don’t go into the terror tunnels. But if we don’t go into the terror tunnels, there’s no way we can destroy Hamas. They told us not to go into the hospitals despite them being used by Hamas as command and control centers, but we went into those hospitals, and we did what we needed to do. And we’ll do what we need to do to reach decisive victory,” he added.
The Politico report comes one day after White House national security aide Jon Finer made clear that the United States has not given Israel a firm deadline to end major combat operations against Hamas in Gaza.
"We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role. This is their conflict. That said, we do have influence, even if we don't have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza," Finer told the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.
Israel has two objectives in Gaza, Finer said, ensuring Hamas can no longer govern Gaza and it can no longer pose a threat to Israel following the deadly October 7 attack.
"Frankly, if the war were to stop today, (Hamas) it would continue to pose (a threat) which is why we are not in a place yet of asking Israel to stop or to force ceasefire," he stated.
Earlier this week, US officials said they expect the current phase of Israel’s ground operation of Gaza, targeting the southern end of the Strip, to last several weeks.
The officials added that they believe Israel will transition, possibly by January, to a lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas terrorists and leaders.
US officials also said that Israel is showing more willingness to discuss plans for Gaza after the war.
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)