Veteran State Department official Josh Paul resigned from the agency on Tuesday over President Joe Biden’s approach to Israel-Palestine, telling HuffPost he felt he had to do so because he knew he could not push for a more humane policy within the U.S. government.
“I have had my fair share of debates and discussions and efforts to shift policy on controversial arms sales,” said Paul, who spent more than 11 years at State’s bureau of political-military affairs, which tackles weapons deals. He most recently served as the bureau’s director of congressional and public affairs.
“It was clear that there’s no arguing with this one. Given that I couldn’t shift anything, I resigned,” he told HuffPost on Wednesday evening in his first media interview since he revealed his decision, which he also described in a LinkedIn post.
The department received “a clear top-down guidance that we are moving forward with everything we can,” Paul said. Asked when he decided to quit, he told HuffPost: “I wouldn’t say there was a single decision point — it was watching things unfold over the last 10 days.”
In response to an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Israel been waging an increasingly aggressive campaign in Gaza, where Hamas is based and more than 2 million people live in already impoverished conditions. Biden has repeatedly promised extensive support to Israel in its operation.
Multiple officials within the Biden administration who want the U.S. to encourage Israeli restraint and concern for civilians as the country seeks to exact vengeance against Hamas have told HuffPost they are experiencing a chilling effect.
Paul’s public announcement of his resignation sent shockwaves through the State Department on Wednesday. He said he was struck by how colleagues across the government and in Congress received his internal message: “I’ve been surprised by how many have said, ‘We absolutely understand where you’re coming from, we feel similarly and understand.’” [Continue reading…]