US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the War cabinet during a whistle-stop Middle East tour on Friday. Blinken travelled yesterday to meet Saudi leaders in Jeddah and Egyptian leaders in Cairo, the State Department confirmed in a statement. It is his sixth trip since the October 7 terror attack by Hamas.

Defense Ministers Yoav Gallant and Lloyd Austin will meet at the Pentagon in the coming days when the US will present plans for ‘targeted’ Israeli operations in Rafah and an end to weapons smuggling at the Egypt to Gaza Philadelphi corridor.

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Council chief Tzachi Hanegbi will hold meetings on a potential Rafah operation with senior Washington officials.

The high-level discussions follow growing tensions between Biden and Netanyahu, who addressed a pro-Israel AIPAC meeting this week.

In a 45-minute conversation, the first in a month, Biden reportedly reassured Netanyahu he was not attempting to hasten his departure from office after backing comments by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and War minister Benny Gantz’ trip to Washington earlier this month.

Schumer criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the war and called for new elections in Israel.

Biden in a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Schumer gave a “good speech” that expressed American concerns.

Netanyahu updated Israeli citizens on his conversation with Biden last night.

He said in a statement: “At the beginning, we agreed that Hamas needs to be eliminated. But during the war, it is no secret, there have been disagreements between us on the best way to achieve this goal. At the outset, I told the President it is impossible to defeat Hamas without the IDF entering the Gaza Strip. In our latest conversation, I told him, it is impossible to complete the victory without the IDF entering Rafah in order to eliminate the remnants of Hamas’s battalions. I have already approved the IDF’s operational plan, and soon we will also approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the battle zones.”

Netanyahu added that Biden had asked to present Israel with proposals regarding the ‘humanitarian sphere and other topics’.

He continued: “We have always done what is vital for our security, and this is what we will do this time as well. As we are preparing to enter Rafah, and this will take a little time, we are continuing to operate with full force. We are continuing to operate in Khan Yunis, in the camps in the center, in eliminating and capturing senior Hamas officials as we have just done in Shifa, and in eliminating hundreds of terrorists. As I have promised you time and again, we are determined to achieve total victory.”

Netanyahu blasted Schumer’s comments as “inappropriate” in TV interviews at the weekend.

He told CNN: “The only government we should bring down now is the Hamas tyranny in Gaza who murdered over 1,000 Israelis, including dozens of Americans, and is holding Americans and Israelis hostage, that’s what we should be focusing on… The majority of Israelis support our government, the policies that we’re leading. It’s not a fringe government, it represents the majority of the people. If Sen. Schumer opposes these policies, he’s not opposing me, he’s opposing the Israeli people.”