State Department diplomats feel the US has been allowing “unacceptable” conduct by Israel to go unchecked in its war with Gaza, according to a leaked memo.
The communique, obtained by Politico, is from two mid-level staffers, and argues that the US should both recognise Israel’s right to self-defence and be willing to publicly criticise the US ally for civilian deaths and other potential violations.
“We must publicly criticize Israel’s violations of international norms such as failure to limit offensive operations to legitimate military targets,” the memo reads. “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.”
Without airing such grievances, the US “contributes to regional public perceptions that the United States is a biased and dishonest actor, which at best does not advance, and at worst harms, U.S. interests worldwide,” according to the memo.
The State Department doesn’t comment on internal memos like these, but department spokesman Matthew Miller said last week that Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomes debate within the ranks.
“One of the strengths of this department is that we do have people with different opinions,” he said in October. “We encourage them to make their opinions known.”
Large swathes of the State Department are reportedly disatisfied with the Biden administration response to the war, in particular its posture towards a ceasfire.
The administration is reportedly urging Israel to consider a three-day fighting pause to secure the release of hostages, but has stopped short of calling for a total ceasefire, despite widespread protests across the US demanding such a measure.
“There’s basically a mutiny brewing within state at all levels,” a diplomatic source told Huffington Post.
Diplomats are reportedly preparing to file a cable in the department’s Dissent Channel, a formal venue for policy disagreements that was established amid the Vietnam War and is reviewing by agency leadership.
Last month, a State Department arms transfer official resigned in protest of the war.
The diplomat, Josh Paul, faulted the department’s “blind support for one side” and decisions that were “shortsighted, destructive, unjust and contradictory to the very values we publicly espouse.”
“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,” he wrote in his resignation letter, adding, “I fear we are repeating the same mistakes we have made these past decades, and I decline to be a part of it for longer.”
Later in October, the director of the New York office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights also resigned.
“Once again we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organization we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Craig Mokhiber wrote on 28 October.
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