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Top State Dept. Official Resigns Over “Immensely Disappointing” Israel Policy

“There’s no space for substantive dissent within the system on this one,” the former U.S. official said.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (2nd L), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rd L) and U.S. President Joe Biden (4th L) listen to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they join a meeting of the Israeli war cabinet in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

A senior State Department official resigned on Wednesday, expressing strong opposition to the Biden administration’s unwavering support of and arms transfers to Israel as it rains bombs down on Gaza.

Josh Paul, who formerly served as director of congressional and public affairs for the agency’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, posted a letter on LinkedIn explaining that he believes the U.S. response to Israel’s siege is based on “intellectual bankruptcy” and that he no longer believes that he can do good in the bureau, which oversees weapons deals. Paul had served within the bureau for 11 years.

“When I came to this Bureau … I made myself a promise that I would stay for as long as I felt the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do,” Paul wrote. “I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued — indeed, expanded and expedited — provision of lethal arms to Israel — I have reached the end of that bargain.”

The letter and resignation represent a rare public show of dissent among the U.S.’s foreign policy personnel in a time when staffers across multiple agencies have anonymously said that they have felt a chilling effect when it comes to expressing support for humanitarian protections for Palestinians, HuffPost reported this week.

“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,” Paul continued. “This Administration’s response — and much of Congress’s as well — is an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia. That is to say, it is immensely disappointing, and entirely unsurprising.”

Paul’s resignation speaks to the intensity of Israel’s war on Palestine, in which at least 3,785 Palestinians have been killed and 13,000 Palestinians have been injured so far. In his statement, Paul condemns ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid — language that the vast majority of politicians and corporate media outlets have refused to use to describe Israel’s decades of violence against Palestinians.

Indeed, Paul resigned the same day that President Joe Biden swooped into Israel to lend his support and solidarity to Israel the day after an explosion at a Gaza hospital — with the region’s hospitals already on the verge of collapse — killed hundreds, Palestinian officials said. Also on Wednesday, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution calling for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, becoming the only country in the 15-member Security Council to vote against the resolution.

In interviews, Paul said that it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to move the needle on the U.S.’s policy regarding Israel’s war on Palestine.

“There’s no questioning on this one. There’s no space for substantive dissent within the system on this one. And that’s what led me to my decision,” Paul told The Washington Post. He said that his decision to resign came not from a single point, but from watching the U.S.’s response unfold in the days since the Hamas attack.

And he added that many State Department colleagues have expressed support for his decision: “What I’ve heard is, ‘Thank you,’ ‘We’re with you,’ all that sort of thing.”

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