Israel-Palestine war: Senior US State Department official resigns over Biden’s approach to Gaza

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a press conference in Tel Aviv, on 17 October 2023, after an overnight meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP)

A senior official at the US State Department issued his resignation on Wednesday evening, citing the Biden administration’s approach to the IsraelPalestine conflict.

“Let me be clear: Hamas’ attack on Israel was not just a monstrosity; it was a monstrosity of monstrosities,” Josh Paul said in a letter, which was posted on X by Brian Finucane, a senior adviser at Crisis Group.

“But I believe to the core of my soul that the response Israel is taking, and with it the American support both for that response, and for the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people – and is not in the long term American interest.”

Paul worked for more than 10 years in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which is in charge of approving arms transfers to other countries.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Paul said that because “I couldn’t shift anything, I resigned”.

Biden has been clear in stating that he will support Israel unequivocally as it takes action against Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, which on 7 October launched a surprise attack on Israel.

The war has so far killed more than 3,500 Palestinians, including more than 1,000 children and 1,000 women, while also killing more than 1,400 Israelis.

Biden also unequivocally backed Israel’s unproven version of events on the explosion that hit al-Ahli al-Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday. The incident was the single most devastating strike to date in the war taking the lives of at least 471 Palestinian civilians.

The strike led to unprecedented anger across the Muslim world and led Jordan to cancel the summit in Amman that was set to bring leaders from Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and the US together – arguably the most significant diplomatic event on Biden’s visit to the Middle East.

The Huffington Post newspaper previously reported that multiple Biden officials who want Washington to encourage Israeli restraint as it bombs Gaza are experiencing fears of speaking out.

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And Middle East Eye reported last week that the White House’s phrasing of any calls for a ceasefire was sending a chilling message to progressive lawmakers and anti-war activists.

The Biden administration is currently drafting a major foreign aid bill that would include $10bn for Israel. In addition to the aid package, the US has also deployed two carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean and has readied 2,000 American troops to be deployed in order to support Israel, as the country readies for a ground invasion of Gaza.

“I cannot work in support of a set of major policy decisions, including rushing more arms to one side of the conflict, that I believe to be shortsighted, destructive, unjust, and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse,” Paul said further in his letter.

He told HuffPost that he was fortunate that he was on leave before making the decision, saying: “If I hadn’t been I would have been fired rather than have the time to think it over and resign.”

The resignation echoes similar decisions made by several US officials who resigned in protest of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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Disclaimer: Israel-Palestine war: Senior US State Department official resigns over Biden’s approach to Gaza - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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