Israel-Palestine conflict: US defense chief arrives in Israel
US Defense Secretary is set to meet Israel's defense minister Yoav Gallant and the country's war Cabinet "to reiterate America's ironclad commitment to Israel"
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced his arrival in Israel on Monday, 18 December with a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
"Wheels down in Tel Aviv," Austin said, adding that he would be meeting with Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the country's war Cabinet "to reiterate America's ironclad commitment to Israel."
Austin also said the talks would address Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) operation to "dismantle Hamas" and underscore "the need to protect civilians from harm" while enabling the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
UN Security Council to vote on resolution calling for cease-fire
The United Nations Security Council on Monday, 18 December is expected to vote on a new resolution calling for an "urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities" in Gaza.
The new resolution was proposed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A previous Security Council vote calling for an end to fighting was vetoed by the US earlier this month.
The expected vote comes as Israel faces mounting international pressure over its continued military operation in Gaza. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Palestinian territory says more than 18,800 people have been killed since the war began.
Hostilities were triggered after the Islamist militant group Hamas launched a large-scale terror attack in southern Israel on October 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. Nearly half of the hostages were released during a six-day truce, but many remain in captivity in Gaza.
Growing domestic pressure to strike new hostage deal
DW's correspondent in Jerusalem, Tania Krämer, has reported that mounting international pressure for a cease-fire does not appear to impact current Israeli policies or strategies.
"We heard again over the weekend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again reiterating that only maximum military pressure will yield any results, mainly a victory for Israel or what they say, eliminating Hamas, topple Hamas and also to release more hostages," Krämer said.
At the same time, Krämer said, the Israeli government was under increasing pressure to do more to free the hostages that are still being held by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US, the EU, and several other countries.
"What is also happening here in Israel is that there is more and more pressure on the Israeli government domestically to do more to make a new deal to release more hostages after three Israeli hostages were killed on Friday by the Israeli military in Gaza," Krämer said.
On the question of Israel's closest allies pushing to revive the idea of a two-state solution, Krämer said that while there were "a lot of ideas floating around," there was "nothing really concrete."
Krämer said that under Netanyahu's right-wing government, the discussion of a two-state solution "is very far away from the reality right now."