ARAB AND WORLD

Fri 21 Jun 2024 7:14 pm - Jerusalem Time

The Foreign Ministry official for Israel and Palestine affairs resigned in protest against the Gaza war

On Friday afternoon, the Washington Post quoted three people as saying that a senior State Department official who was skeptical of the full “embracing” approach followed by US President Joe Biden’s administration toward the Israeli government resigned this week, in a setback for American diplomats who are seeking a greater break with the president. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition.


Andrew Miller, deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, told colleagues on Friday that he had decided to leave his job, citing his family and saying he rarely saw them as the eight-month-long war in Gaza grew increasingly consumed.

Miller told his colleagues that without these responsibilities, he would prefer to stay in his job and fight for what he believed in, including those areas in which he disagreed with administration policy.


Miller's resignation, which was not previously reported, comes amid growing frustration inside and outside government over the high number of Palestinian civilian deaths in the war and concerns among some that influence on policy matters is dominated by a narrow coterie of President Biden's closest advisers. Miller is the most senior American official to resign so far, and his portfolio focuses on Israeli-Palestinian issues.


Susan Maloney, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post: “His departure will be a loss for the administration in general and the State Department in particular,” noting that it is “a clear indication of the general toll that the war on Gaza has inflicted on those who were working to deal with it.” With the repercussions of the security war on the United States and its allies.”


People who know him describe Miller as a principled supporter of Palestinian rights and statehood, and a careful thinker on Middle East affairs. Before focusing his work on Israeli-Palestinian issues, he was senior policy advisor to the US ambassador to the United Nations, and during the Obama administration, he served as director of military issues for Egypt and Israel on the White House National Security Council.


“Andrew brings deep experience and a sharp perspective to the table every day,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller (as he is named). “Everyone here is sorry to see him go, but we wish him well in his next endeavors.”


Aaron David Miller (also eponymous), a Middle East expert who has advised both Democratic and Republican administrations, described Andrew Miller as a “smart” and “creative” diplomat, but said it had become difficult for officials in the Near East Bureau to The Ministry has influence on policy.


“He was a group of well-intentioned and capable Foreign Service officers who had little or no influence on American policy before and even after October 7,” Aaron Miller said.


Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, rejected that characterization of the office, noting that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accompanied its leader, Barbara Leff, on all eight of his trips to the Middle East since October 7, and has relied on her extensively. It carries messages from him and the president to leaders throughout the region.


The Israeli war on Gaza led to the death of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to local health authorities, and sparked a division among officials in the US government over the nature of the appropriate response to the Hamas attack (on 10/7/23).


Since the beginning of the war, Biden has given his full support to the Israelis, injecting weapons into the conflict and providing diplomatic and political cover in international institutions - even as Israel has used indiscriminate bombing tactics and obstructed humanitarian access. Despite this support, Netanyahu has repeatedly ignored US demands to take a more surgical approach in Gaza and refrain from exacerbating tensions with the Palestinians, such as withholding tax revenues and using inflammatory rhetoric.


Although the Gaza policy was deeply divisive in the US government, it only led to a few resignations at the State Department, the Pentagon, and other federal agencies. Ministry officials have recently been subjected to email campaigns encouraging protest resignations related to the dispute.


A US official who knows Andrew Miller told The Washington Post that he was “ahead of the curve” in recognizing the dangers of what became known as the administration’s “full embrace” strategy, referring to Biden physically embracing Netanyahu during a visit to Tel Aviv. In the days following the Hamas attack. Miller is said to have believed that the influence the United States had over Israel as its largest military, economic and political backer could have been used more effectively.


“He is certainly on the more progressive side of administration officials when it comes to the region, including Israel and Palestine, but he has never been the type to burn things down and abandon pragmatism,” the official said. “He has always advocated that the United States should support Palestinian rights and a Palestinian state, but his advocacy while in government has generally been calm and measured.”

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The Foreign Ministry official for Israel and Palestine affairs resigned in protest against the Gaza war

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