• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

State Department official resigns over Biden administration’s handling of Israel-Hamas conflict

State Department official resigns over Biden administration's handling of Israel-Hamas conflict


A State Department official has resigned from the agency over the Biden administration’s approach to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the official announced on LinkedIn Wednesday.

Josh Paul, who said he has worked in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for more than 11 years, said in his LinkedIn post that he resigned “due to a policy disagreement concerning our continued lethal assistance to Israel.”

“Let me be clear,” Paul wrote. “Hamas’ attack on Israel was not just a monstrosity; it was a monstrosity of monstrosities. I also believe that potential escalations by Iran-linked groups such as Hezbollah, or by Iran itself, would be a further cynical exploitation of the existing tragedy. 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.”

“This Administration’s response – and much of Congress’ as well – is an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia,” Paul adds. “That is to say, it is immensely disappointing, and entirely unsurprising. Decades of the same approach have shown that security for peace leads to neither security, nor to peace. The fact is, blind support for one side is destructive in the long term to the interests of the people on both sides.”

Paul said that he cannot work to support a set of policy decisions that include sending over arms, which he believes to be “shortsighted, destructive, unjust, and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse.”

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said the agency appreciates that employees have “different” beliefs.

“We understand, we expect, we appreciate that different people working in this department have different political beliefs, have different personal beliefs, have different beliefs about what the United States policy should be,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Thursday.

“With respect to this specific criticism that has been aired, we have made very clear that we strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself. We are going to continue providing the security assistance that they need to defend themselves. We think they have a right, not a right but an obligation, to defend themselves against these terrorist attacks – I think any country would do that. But the President and the Secretary has spoken to this very clearly that we expect Israel to abide by all international law as they defend themselves,” Miller added.

US officials have repeatedly voiced support for Israel’s “obligation … to defend itself against these attacks from Hamas, and to try to do what it can to make sure that this never happens again,” in the words of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but “it needs to do it in a way that affirms the shared values that we have for human life and human dignity, taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

The US provides $3.8 billion annually in security assistance to Israel, and the administration is poised to request additional security assistance.

In an interview with The New York Times, Paul said legal guardrails that are intended to keep American weapons out of the hands of human rights violators are failing, as the US backs Israel while the nation has cut off water, food, medical care and electricity in Gaza.

On Thursday, Paul told CNN that he believes there isn’t currently “a space for debate on the issue.”

“In the past, there has been effective or at least vocal pushback from those within the State Department responsible for human rights to look at some of these issues and not rush forward,” Paul said, adding that Congress typically presents additional oversight, but in this case, there was “no congressional opposition.”

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