U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. President Joe Biden, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. President Joe Biden listen as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reads a statement before their meeting in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023.

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

US State Department Official Resigns Over 'Destructive, Unjust' Arms Transfers to Israel

"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," Josh Paul wrote in his resignation letter.

A U.S. State Department official announced his resignation Wednesday over the Biden administration's decision to send more arms to Israel as it carries out a massive assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, killing more than 3,400 people, decimating the enclave's civilian infrastructure, and strangling the population with an unlawful blockade.

"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, and which I wholeheartedly endorse: a world built around a rules-based order, a world that advances both equality and equity, and a world whose arc of history bends towards the promise of liberty, and of justice, for all," Josh Paul, who spent 11 years as director of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, wrote in his resignation letter.

Paul helped oversee the transfer of U.S. weaponry to allies, a position that he acknowledged "was not without its moral complexity and moral compromises."

"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. "In my 11 years I have made more moral compromises than I can recall, each heavily, but each with my promise to myself in mind, and intact. 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."

Paul's resignation came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden embraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and "reiterated his steadfast support for Israel" even as United Nations experts, human rights organizations, and international law scholars accuse the country of committing egregious war crimes—including genocide.

The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, said in a report released earlier this week that "the damage and casualties caused by Israeli attacks" on Gaza "were not proportionate to the military advantage and so the actions constitute a war crime."

The commission added that "the prevention of entry of food and medical supplies into Gaza is a violation of international humanitarian law."

While the Biden administration helped negotiate a deal to allow limited humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through its border with Egypt, U.S. leaders have thus far refused to call for a cease-fire and pledged to continue arming the Israeli military as it prepares for a ground invasion.

HuffPostreported last week that the U.S. State Department has instructed American diplomats not to use the word "cease-fire" in press materials, and some administration staffers have expressed concern about retaliation if they question U.S. support for Israel's attack on Gaza.

In recent days, U.S. shipments of ammunition, so-called "smart bombs," and other weaponry have arrived in Israel, which was already the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance. The Biden administration is reportedly preparing to ask Congress to approve a new $100 billion military aid package for Israel and Ukraine.

The Associated Pressreported that the Biden administration is "also getting U.S. defense companies to expedite weapons orders by Israel that were already on the books." Without imposing restrictions on the use of American weaponry, U.S. officials are at risk of being complicit in Israeli war crimes, human rights advocates have warned.

In his resignation letter, Paul argued that the administration's response to the deadly violence in Israel and Gaza "is an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia."

"Decades of the same approach have shown that security for peace leads to neither security, nor to peace," Paul wrote. "The fact is, blind support for one side is destructive in the long-term to the interest of the people on both sides. 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."

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