US government employees who resigned over Gaza policy release joint statement for first time

The US government employees who have publicly resigned in protest of the Biden administration’s Gaza policies released a joint statement on Tuesday for the first time, stating they “stand united in a shared belief that it is our collective responsibility to speak up” and outlining steps they believe the US government should take.

The 12 signatories tendered their resignations at various points over the course of the nearly nine-month conflict between Israel and Hamas, with one resigning as recently as Tuesday. Many of them have spoken out, including to CNN, about their decisions to publicly leave in protest of the administration’s policies. As CNN reported last month, the officials had begun banding together to put pressure on the government to change course.

Tuesday’s statement was released in conjunction with the July Fourth holiday, noting that “as our nation celebrates its Independence Day, each of us are reminded that we resigned from government not to terminate that oath but to continue to abide by it; not to end our commitment to service, but to extend it.”

“The Administration’s policy in Gaza is a failure and a threat to U.S. national security,” they write in the joint statement, titled “Service in Dissent.”

“America’s diplomatic cover for, and continuous flow of arms to, Israel has ensured our undeniable complicity in the killings and forced starvation of a besieged Palestinian population in Gaza. This is not only morally reprehensible and in clear violation of international humanitarian law and U.S. laws, but it has also put a target on America’s back,” they continue, arguing that it has put the lives of service members and diplomats at risk.

President Joe Biden has faced pressure both abroad and at home over his support for Israel in its war in Gaza – a conflict that has cost tens of thousands of civilian lives, displaced millions and brought extreme hunger throughout the enclave. Although the rhetoric from the administration has become harsher – with warnings that Israel must do more to protect civilians and allow more aid in – the policies have remained largely unchanged.

The resigned officials argue that the US policy toward Gaza has “been deeply damaging not only for U.S relations in the region, but for our global credibility, the credibility of U.S. values, and the credibility of the West — a particularly perilous state of affairs in the context of this era of strategic competition.”

The joint statement lays out six recommendations to the US government. Among them are a call for the US government to “faithfully execute the law,” saying that “it is abundantly clear that the Administration is currently willfully violating multiple U.S. laws and attempting to deny or distort facts, use loopholes, or manipulate processes to ensure a continuous flow of lethal weapons to Israel.”

It also calls for the government to use “all necessary and available leverage to bring the conflict to an immediate close”; expansion of humanitarian aid; support of the self-determination of the Palestinian people; stronger oversight and accountability mechanisms within the executive branch; and support of freedom of speech for college protesters.

Resigned officials who previously spoke with CNN said many of their former colleagues felt similarly to them but were not in a position to resign. The joint statement concludes with a message to such colleagues, telling them that their “voice matters.”

“We encourage you to keep pushing. In our experience, no decision point is too minor to challenge, so while you are in government service, use your voice, write letters to leaders in your agencies, and bring up your disagreements with your team,” they continue. “Speaking out has a snowball effect, inspiring others to use their voice. There is strength in numbers, and we urge you to not be complicit.”

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