The meeting between Lloyd Austin and the Israeli defense minister occurs at a sensitive time in the campaign for US weapons.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is expected to request additional US weapons and equipment to support Israel’s war in Gaza when he meets with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, according to US officials. This is a very sensitive request at a time when US weapons sales to the nation are closely monitored by lawmakers and opponents of President Joe Biden’s continued support for Israel. Austin’s meeting with Gallant will be his first trip to the Pentagon as the Israeli defense minister. It comes after his discussions on Monday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, where it was also anticipated that the topic of weapons sales will come up, according to authorities.

The conversations take place at a time when ties between the US and Israel are at an all-time low after a separate Israeli team canceled scheduled meetings with US officials to talk about Israel’s military intentions for southern Gaza on Monday. Following the US’s failure to veto a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages from Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to cancel the trip. A spokesman for the National Security Council, John Kirby, stated on Monday, “We’re very disappointed that they will not be coming to Washington, DC, to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah.”

According to various officials and sources aware with the requests who spoke with CNN, Israeli defense officials have been pressing their US counterparts for quicker permission and progress on the weapons transfers despite the elevated tensions. Gallant made it clear in a phone conversation with Austin last week that he would be bringing with him a wish list of US weapons and equipment that Israel wants to purchase and have delivered quickly, according to officials, including more F-35 and F-15 fighter jets and precision-guided munitions. This was before Gallant left for Washington, DC, on Sunday. A senior government official told CNN that Gallant will be informed that the numerous examples of weapons sales are being investigated. The person told CNN that “there is scrutiny, but no policy decision to deny” Israel’s request for more weaponry.

The health ministry of Gaza announced this week that since October, over 32,000 Palestinians have died there. According to US officials familiar with the talks, Austin frequently pushes Gallant in phone calls about how Israel is utilizing US-supplied weapons for its operations in the enclave and frequently informs Gallant that Israel is losing support from other countries by not doing more to safeguard and assist residents there. However, since the start of the conflict, the defense secretary’s stance on arming Israel has not changed significantly, according to authorities. Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the press secretary for the Pentagon, stated on Monday that “the secretary still believes fundamentally in Israel’s inherent right to defend themselves and that we will continue to support them in that regard.” “That backing is unwavering.”

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