US State Department official resigns over Israel military aid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has asked Washington for $10 billion in support, according to several reports

Israeli tanks at an undisclosed location along the border with Gaza on Wednesday. AFP
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A US State Department official who worked on arms transfers to foreign nations has resigned over the Biden administration’s handling of Israel’s war on Gaza, calling the White House’s response “an impulsive reaction” based on “intellectual bankruptcy”.

Josh Paul, who worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, said he could no longer support further US military assistance to Israel.

“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 short-sighted, destructive, unjust and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse,” Mr Paul wrote in his resignation letter posted on LinkedIn on Thursday.

Mr Biden plans to ask Congress for more than $2 billion in combined additional aid for Israel and Ukraine. He is expected to address the nation and the world about both wars later on Thursday evening, from the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, Israel has asked the US for $10 billion in emergency military aid, according to several reports. The aid package is being put together in a bill by Congress, in co-ordination with the White House, and is expected to be put to vote after Mr Biden’s address.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he would be working to approve an aid package for Israel, “hopefully within the next few weeks”.

Mr Schumer said US politicians had discussed providing Israel with 155mm artillery ammunition, replacement ammunition for the Iron Dome missile defence system, precision-guided bombs and JDam kits to turn standard bombs into precision munitions.

He also announced $100 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Mr Biden visited Israel on Wednesday and expressed solidarity with the country after the Hamas attacks on October 7. The visit was part of an attempt to gauge Israel's war objectives and prevent the war from becoming a regional conflict.

Mr Biden warned Israel to be cautious as it tries to remove the threat posed by Hamas.

“After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice, we also made mistakes,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Paul had spent more than 11 years in his position, which co-ordinates relations with Congress and handles public messaging for an important office that deals with military aid.

He said his specific role handling weapons deals did not come without “moral complexity and moral compromises”.

“I made myself a promise that I would stay for as long as I felt I the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do,” he wrote.

“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.”

Updated: October 19, 2023, 10:54 AM