Over 700 Allied Officials Call for Changes in Gaza Policy

A group of nearly 700 government officials in the US, UK and major European countries – as well as European Union institutions – have signed a letter urging Western countries to reconsider their policy of giving total support to Israel’s devastating offensive on Gaza.

The letter, released on Friday, urges the governments of those countries to use everything possible, including the possibility of cutting military support for Israel, to secure a ceasefire in Gaza that would increase aid for Palestinians and free Israeli hostages captured by Hamas and Israel. other militants on October 7.

It is the latest sign of deep concern among foreign policy professionals about the path chosen by US President Joe Biden and other world leaders since the attack and the start of Israeli retaliation.

“As civil servants, we are expected to respect, obey and uphold the law when implementing policies, regardless of the political party in power… we have done so throughout our careers,” said the letter, which was also signed by people working for France. The governments of Germany and Switzerland, among others.

The report continued: “We have internally expressed our concern that our government/institution policies do not serve our interests and called for alternatives that better serve national and international security, democracy and freedom; reflects the core principles of Western foreign policy; and incorporate lessons learned. Our professional concerns were overridden by political and ideological considerations.”

Frustration among national security experts in an administration that considers Israel to be Israel’s main supporter is at an all-time high.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a town hall-style meeting with State Department employees, most of whom have signed a dissenting letter challenging Biden’s Gaza policy. At the meeting, a staffer told Blinken that State Department employees receive messages every day from people in Gaza who were previously involved in US government programs and asked what more the US could do to end the conflict – drawing applause from the crowd. audience. this session, a State Department official told Talk News.

A State Department spokesperson did not respond to Talk News’s request for comment on the incident.

Josh Paul, a veteran State Department official whose resignation over U.S. policy in Gaza was first reported by Talk News, helped organize Friday’s letter, whose signatories remain anonymous for fear of professional retaliation. In a statement regarding the message, Paul argued: “One-sided support for Israeli atrocities in Gaza, and blindness to Palestinian humanity, is a moral failure, and, given the harm it is doing to Western interests around the world, a policy must be adopted. failure.”

“This is an extraordinary statement from hundreds of individuals who have dedicated their lives to building a better world, and, at a time when our politicians seem to have forgotten it, it is a much-needed reminder of the core values ​​that bind the transatlantic nations . relationships, and proof that they persist,” he continued.

Government employees in the Netherlands staged a silent sit-in outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 21 to show their dissatisfaction with the outgoing cabinet's attitude towards Israel's attacks on Gaza.Government employees in the Netherlands staged a silent sit-in outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 21 to show their dissatisfaction with the outgoing cabinet’s attitude towards Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Charles M Vella/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Netherlands, one of Europe’s richest countries and host to key global institutions, such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has seen significant upheaval, with civil servants last month demonstrating outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.

“The Netherlands pretends to be the legal and human rights capital of the world, and look at us,” said Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch diplomat stationed in the occupied West Bank.

He argued that the message “shows that people who are experts, who have diplomatic experience… who have served the country for many years and have done so with great loyalty, are deeply concerned.”

“They would never have chosen to do this if it wasn’t something very serious. “This is a very extraordinary situation, especially in the wake of the ICJ order,” van der Woude said, referring to the court’s ruling last week that there was a reasonable risk of genocide in Gaza and that Israel’s offensive there should change course.

Angélique Eijpe, a 21-year veteran of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, resigned over her government’s approach in November. He said Friday’s signing of the letter was “a wonderful thing for all parties involved to do.”

He told Talk News that after the Oct. 7 attack, he tried to warn the foreign minister about Israel’s response, noting comments from Israeli ministers that suggested “genocidal intent.”

“I caution that I see similarities with our decision-making in the context of the Iraq War, where we also put aside all critical assessments of the situation because there had already been political decisions made,” Eijpe said.

The administration responded with “few expressions of concern for our well-being,” he said – an echo of the hearings and town halls the Biden administration offered to US officials deeply troubled by the moral and strategic implications of Washington’s choice.

“Concerns like this are good, but they also raise doubts about the professionalism of our concerns,” Eijpe said. American officials who have internally opposed the policy have cited national security arguments in doing so, and in November, Talk News revealed that dozens of American counterterrorism experts had written private letters to their agency heads saying Biden’s approach risked triggering blowback and damaging cooperation with other countries.

In his resignation letter, Eijpe noted that he was the breadwinner for his children and his decision to resign was difficult. But he compared it to the impact of his ancestors’ choices amid the Holocaust in the 1940s and the Palestinians who die every day in Gaza today.

“In the end, I had the enormous privilege of paying a relatively insignificant price to be on the right side of history,” Eijpe wrote.

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