Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) welcomes US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv (French)

The Washington Post quoted US officials as saying that 20 White House staff had asked to meet with US President Joe Biden's top advisers for a discussion on the Gaza Strip.

According to the newspaper, the employees had 3 main issues that they wanted to discuss with White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, senior adviser Anita Dunn, and Deputy National Security Adviser John Vinner.

The 20 employees wanted to know the administration's strategy for reducing civilian deaths in Gaza, the message Washington plans to send on the conflict, and its post-war vision in the region.

A White House official familiar with the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Zients, Dan and Viner listened respectfully and said White House management should be careful not to publicly criticize Israel so it could influence its leaders privately.

The advisers also made clear that U.S. officials are pressing Israel to minimize civilian casualties, and stressed that President Biden and his top aides will call for a two-state solution once the conflict ends.

The sources added that the impact of Israel's war on Gaza in the White House is greater than any other issue during Biden's presidency, and that the US administration bears a lot of burdens because of Israel.

A tougher approach

The sources also said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cares about political considerations, and they need someone who makes the right decisions, they said.

The administration believes Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have a troubling influence over Netanyahu's government.

The sources familiar with the matter confirmed that Biden has taken a tougher approach to Israel privately and publicly in recent weeks as a result of his harsh criticism of Netanyahu over civilian casualties in Gaza and settler violence in the West Bank.

The US sources expressed concern that Israel would not show restraint when it moves its operation to the southern Gaza Strip, and that the protracted conflict in Gaza could increase political and diplomatic pressure on Biden.

CNN previously reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged differences within the State Department over the Biden administration's approach.

CNN also reported that hundreds of USAID employees have signed an open letter calling for a ceasefire, and there are reports of an "opposition memorandum" within the State Department.

Last month, a State Department official publicly resigned in protest at the administration's policy on Israel's war in Gaza.

Source : Al Jazeera + Washington Post