Former Trump adviser and ambassadors met with Netanyahu as Gaza war strains US-Israel ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of Israel's wars and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery Monday, May 13, 2024. (Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former national security adviser Robert O’Brien on Tuesday said he and two U.S. ambassadors who served in the Trump administration met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials from the country.

John Rakolta, who served under Trump as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and Ed McMullen, who served as ambassador to Switzerland, participated in the meeting. Reuters reported first on the meeting.

Former President Donald Trump is the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee challenging President Joe Biden’s reelection. O’Brien notified the Biden administration of the trip, as it is routine for former senior officials.

The meeting happened as the United States-Israel relations hit a low point over Biden’s decision to hold up the delivery of heavy bombs. He has warned other provisions may be suspended as well if Israel takes on a widescale operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

On Monday, however, both countries strongly condemned an effort by the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli officials in connection with the Gaza war. Biden said the U.S. would stand with Israel.

The Gaza war has been a challenge for both leaders, whose political futures are at risk.

Trump has criticized Biden, accusing him of abandoning a key ally. And Biden also faces pro-Palestinian protests in campuses.

Netanyahu vowed to destroy Hamas after the Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and some 250 were taken hostage. His critics have blamed him for the failures of Oct. 7 and have accused him of prolonging the war for his political survival.

The Trump administration advisers also met with Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid and other officials. ______

Gomez Licon reported from Miami.