Kamala Harris to Meet With Top Israeli Official as Cease-Fire Talks Continue

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to meet with Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet, in Washington on Monday, according to a White House official and a spokesman for Mr. Gantz.

During the meeting with Mr. Gantz, Ms. Harris is expected to discuss the urgency of securing a hostage deal, which would allow for a temporary cease-fire, and the need to significantly increase aid into Gaza, according to the White House official, who provided details on the condition of anonymity.

The meeting, which is scheduled to take place at the White House, comes as the Biden administration faces pressure to help secure a temporary cease-fire and hostage deal in the Israel-Hamas war and to more forcefully address the escalating humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

On Saturday, another senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic efforts, told reporters that negotiations were continuing, and that Israel had “more or less accepted” a framework for the deal and that the ball was now in Hamas’s court.

The proposal could lead to a six-week pause in the fighting, as well as the release of some of the hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israel. President Biden had expressed hope that a deal could be reached by Monday as U.S. officials said they were working to secure a deal by the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that will start this year around March 10.

The United States also delivered its first airdrop of food into Gaza on Saturday amid warnings that the besieged enclave was on the brink of famine. Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid, even as international relief organizations have suspended some convoys because of rising anarchy and the looting of some aid trucks inside Gaza.

Ms. Harris is also expected to discuss the American commitment to increasing the flow of aid to Gaza, including more airdrops of food, according to the official. She plans to impress upon Mr. Gantz that the number of civilian casualties must be reduced and to express her concern for the safety of more than one million displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in southern Gaza, as Israel plans to deploy ground forces there.

The meeting was reported earlier by the Reuters news service.

The number of Palestinians killed in the war surpassed 30,000 this week, according to Gazan health officials. More than 100 Palestinians were killed on Thursday after Israeli forces opened fire around a convoy of aid trucks in northern Gaza that crowds had descended on in a desperate attempt to get food. The Israeli military said most were killed in a crush around the vehicles, some of which ran over panicking Gazans as they sought to extricate themselves. Palestinian witnesses and doctors have said Israeli forces fired extensively, wounding and killing scores.

The deadly toll and dire conditions have prompted rising international calls for an immediate cease-fire, which the Biden administration has so far refrained from joining.

During the meeting, Ms. Harris plans to reiterate the American stance that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas, which led a brutal attack on Oct. 7 that left more than 1,200 dead, according to Israeli officials. She also expects to discuss postwar plans to rebuild Gaza that would be governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Gantz, who visited Washington last year, is also scheduled to meet separately with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, his office said in a statement, as well as with members of Congress and pro-Israeli lobbyists.

It was unclear whether Mr. Gantz’s visit had the full backing of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The two men belong to different parties and have often sat on opposing sides, but Mr. Gantz, a centrist former defense minister and military chief, joined the emergency war cabinet when the war started. Mr. Gantz’s office said he had updated the prime minister on his visit so as to coordinate talking points.