IDF soldiers operating in Gaza
IDF soldiers operating in GazaIDF Spokesperson's Unit

The US and Israel are expected to hold a virtual meeting on Monday to discuss the Biden administration's alternative proposals to an Israeli military invasion of Rafah, four Israeli and US officials told Barak Ravid of Axios on Sunday.

The meeting was supposed to take place in person last week, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled the meeting after the US did not veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages.

A day later, he sent quiet messages to the White House asking to reschedule, according to Axios. After the White House made Netanyahu's request public, he denied such a delegation would be going to the White House.

Netanyahu's closest confidant, Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, told Netanyahu several times in recent days he needs to send the delegation to Washington as soon as possible to avoid further escalation of tensions with President Joe Biden, the report said.

Senior Israeli officials said holding a virtual meeting is a way for Netanyahu to "save face" and have a discussion with the White House about Rafah without sending a delegation to Washington.

Monday’s meeting will take place on a secure video conference call, Israeli and US officials told Axios.

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to lead the US side in the meeting, with representatives from the Pentagon, State Department and the US intelligence agencies participating. Dermer and Netanyahu's national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi are going to lead the talks from the Israeli side with senior Israeli defense and intelligence officials participating.

The White House and the Prime Minister's office declined to comment.

The US administration has repeatedly stressed its opposition to an Israeli operation in Rafah. Blinken, who recently visited Israel, reiterated that position and said, “We share Israel’s goal of defeating Hamas, which is responsible for the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. And we share the goal of ensuring Israel’s long-term security. As we’ve said, though, a major military ground operation in Rafah is not the way to do it.”

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 told ABC News last week that she would not rule out "consequences" if Israel carried out a military operation in Rafah.