Secretary Blinken Meets with State Department Officials Opposed to Israel-Gaza War

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with a group of State Department officials who formally disagreed with President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, according to a current and a former State Department official.

The previously unreported meeting took place on October 26, said the former official, who left the State Department several years ago. The move comes at a time of great frustration within the State Department over Biden’s disregard for the national security expertise of officials, his circumvention of normal consultation procedures, and his preoccupation with demonstrating support for Israel.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the meeting, saying only that “the secretary of state meets regularly with colleagues, including those with whom he may disagree.”

Secretary Blinken Meets with State Department Officials Opposed to Israel-Gaza War

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller has previously said that Blinken welcomes dissent and disagreement from the agency. But officials told The Huffington Post that when they described concerns based on their expertise, managers told them those views were highly unlikely to change U.S. policy – and at one point told officials they should focus on making an impact in other parts of the world, not the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

This week, the department launched a new series of group meetings between leaders and rank-and-file officials, according to inside sources seen by The Huffington Post. The announcement describes leaders sharing their perspectives, but doesn’t specify the impact, if any, that expressing a different point of view might have.

The former official said Blinken had previously met with officials unhappy with U.S. policy, such as those who questioned U.S. support for the brutal Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Obama has largely continued that policy during his presidency.

The Biden administration has shown some signs of public concern about Israel’s behavior in the Gaza offensive, which was launched after Hamas, a Gaza-based Palestinian militant group, launched a vicious Oct. 7 attack inside Israel. Biden and Blinken backed up that idea this week. Biden and Blinken this week backed the idea of a “humanitarian pause” to allow more aid to flow into besieged areas.

However, the U.S. has given no indication that it would reduce its support for Israel based on its response to humanitarian concerns or indications that Israel may be using excessive force in violation of international law, and some observers fear that a pause would only make the fighting more protracted.

On Friday, Blinken told his Israeli counterparts that he believed a pause would help the U.S. continue to defend and support Israel’s ground operations in Gaza, where millions of people could remain trapped despite the pause, Axios revealed.

A U.S. official and two Israeli officials told the media that Blinken privately told the Israelis, “We don’t want to stop you, but help us help you buy more time.”

Blinken’s meeting with dissident State Department officials demonstrated the deep internal divisions in the Biden administration over the handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict. It remains to be seen whether Blinken will be able to bridge these differences, or whether they will continue to prevent the Biden administration from developing a coherent regional policy.

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