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Dissenting Memo From State Dept Criticizes Biden Response to Israel’s Attacks

“We must publicly criticize Israel’s violations of international norms,” the dissenting memo states.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (back) greets President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023.

Politico has obtained a leaked Department of State dissenting memo that expresses opposition to the United States’ official stance on Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.

It’s unclear how many staffers in the department signed on to the memo, or whether it has been altered or amended since it was leaked, Politico reported. Dissenting memos are not uncommon — indeed, the department encourages such commentaries, and has a Dissent Channel set up for them — but it’s unusual for dissenting memos to be released publicly. Other dissenting memos relating to Israel’s recent actions are reportedly being discussed within the department.

The memo wasn’t deemed classified but was officially labeled “sensitive,” according to Politico.

The memo, which was authored by two mid-level department staffers with experience working in the Middle East, questioned U.S. policy on two fronts: first, the government’s refusal to express support for a ceasefire in the region; and second, the administration’s refusal to publicly condemn Israel’s relentless bombing of civilians in Gaza.

“We must publicly criticize Israel’s violations of international norms such as failure to limit offensive operations to legitimate military targets,” the memo states. “When Israel supports settler violence and illegal land seizures or employs excessive use of force against Palestinians, we must communicate publicly that this goes against our American values so that Israel does not act with impunity.”

Israel began its attacks in Gaza after Hamas killed more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped hundreds of others early in October. The memo’s authors say that Israel has a “legitimate right and obligation” to respond to such attacks, but states that the “extent of human lives lost [in Gaza] thus far is unacceptable.”

“Tolerance” for the horrific onslaught by Israel’s military “engenders doubt in the rules-based international order that we have long championed,” the memo adds.

As of Monday, about one month into Israel’s genocidal military campaign in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed at least 10,022 Palestinians — 4,104 of whom are children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Many victims remain trapped under building rubble, and Israel’s siege is blocking vital goods from reaching people in desperate need, including fuel, food and electricity, Al Jazeera reports.

Several international bodies have expressed deep concern over Israel’s actions, including the United Nations. On Monday, the U.N.’s humanitarian agency wrote on social media that Israel’s attacks on Gaza are a “humanitarian tragedy of colossal proportions,” noting that violence and restrictions against Palestinians in the West Bank are also intensifying.

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