WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials held a video call Monday with their Israeli counterparts about a planned military offensive in the Gazan city of Rafah — after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled an in-person delegation last week to protest the US abstaining from a United Nations Security Council vote urging an “immediate cease-fire.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan led the two-hour meeting of the US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group (SCG) with Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Minster for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer. 

“The two sides over the course of two hours had a constructive engagement on Rafah,” the White House said in a press release.

“They agreed that they share the objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah. The US side expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah. The Israeli side agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow up discussions between experts, overseen by the SCG.”

The White House said there would be an in-person follow-up meeting “as early as next week.”

Netanyahu scrapped the planned delegation trip last week over the rare decision by the US not to veto a Security Council resolution critical of Israel by abstaining in the 15-member body.

The Israeli leader said he was outraged that the resolution didn’t condemn Hamas, which sparked the war with a stunning surprise attack on Israeli border checkpoints, towns and a music festival on Oct. 7, murdering about 1,200 Israelis and abducting about 250 hostages back to Gaza.

The decision to spike the visit was largely symbolic, as Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant went ahead with a planned visit to Washington last week, where he met over two days with the highest-ranking Biden administration officials handling the conflict — including Blinken and Sullivan.

Hamas still holds an estimated 134 hostages, including at least six US citizens. An estimated 100 of those hostages are believed to still be alive, with the remainder thought to have died in captivity.

Israel last month agreed to a US-proposed six-week cease-fire that would have released all remaining hostages in Gaza in exchange for Israel freeing roughly 700 Palestinian inmates, including about 100 convicted of killing Israelis.

Hamas instead demanded that Netanyahu’s government release all of the roughly 9,000 prisoners held for anti-Israel activities.

Biden staunchly defended Israel early on in the conflict and visited the country on Oct. 18 in a show of support, but has become increasingly critical in public remarks about the need to prevent civilian casualties amid sustained backlash from crucial Democratic voting blocs, including younger voters, Arab Americans and Muslims, which threatens his re-election prospects.

Anti-Israel protesters have dubbed Biden “Genocide Joe” — painting the slogan on the White House’s front fence and repeatedly shouting it at the president to interrupt his public events.

The Biden administration has quietly approved billions of dollars in arms transfers over the past month, despite the president’s increasing public criticism of Israel, the Washington Post reported last week.

The latest supplies include 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, the outlet reported — on top of State Department approval of a $2.5 billion transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines.

The Biden administration also reportedly is preparing to approve the sale of 50 F-15 fighter jets to Israel for $18 billion.

Hamas’ areas of control in the Gaza Strip have been reduced significantly in the conflict, but the group still holds Rafah along the border with Egypt. Most of the territory’s more than 2 million residents are believed to have fled earlier fighting into the final large area of Hamas control.

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