By Humeyra Pamuk
Amidst rising criticism within the State Department, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed concerns about the Biden administration’s Israel-Hamas war policy on Monday.
Hundreds of U.S. government employees have openly and privately advocated for a ceasefire in Gaza, criticizing President Joe Biden‘s unwavering support for Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,200 people, predominantly civilians.
As a response, Israel launched a relentless campaign on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 11,000 Palestinians, and prompting widespread rebuffs by Palestinian leaders and calls for Israel to halt its assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.
U.S. Secretary of State, Blinken, returning from a Middle East and Asia trip, acknowledged the emotional toll the conflict has taken on the State Department’s workforce and the potential divisions over policy in a letter to department employees, obtained by Reuters.
The letter comes as protests in the United States and other countries call for a ceasefire, and concerns mount over the U.S. response, including the public resignation of one State Department official who opposed continued lethal assistance to Israel.
While some sources express “deep frustration” among State Department staff, Department leadership is unlikely to change Biden’s policy, despite encouraging feedback.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Michael Perry)