State Dept. reacts to staffer’s public resignation over Israel offensive in Gaza

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The Department of State has responded to inquiries about a staffer who publicly resigned over U.S. inaction regarding the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller pushed back on former staffer Annelle Sheline’s public resignation earlier in the day, which she told outlets was due to being “unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities” occurring in Gaza. 

“She was a fellow at the State Department and, in my understanding, had just finished the first year of a fellowship that could have gone for two years and did not exercise her option to return for a second year as a fellow,” Miller told reporters.

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Annelle Sheline, a former foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, resigned from her job at the State Department on Wednesday in protest of the Biden administration’s continued support of Israel. (Facebook/Annelle Sheline)

He continued, “There is a broad diversity of views inside the State Department about our policy with respect to Gaza just as there is a broad diversity in the State Department about our policy in a number of important foreign policy issues. As there is a broad diversity of views and opinions throughout American society about this issue and others.”

Sheline, in a public display of disapproval towards President Biden’s administration, resigned Wednesday from her job as a foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. She cited U.S. inaction as Israel plans a ground invasion of Rafah that the White House has said it does not support.

“Israel is still planning to invade Rafah, where the majority of people in Gaza have fled; UN officials have described the carnage that is expected to ensue as ‘beyond imagination,'” Sheline wrote in a Wednesday opinion piece for CNN. “In the West Bank, armed settlers and Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinians, including US citizens. These actions, which experts on genocide have testified meet the crime of genocide, are conducted with the diplomatic and military support of the US government.”

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U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller speaks to reporters during the Department Press Briefing at the Department of State. (U.S. State Department)

She added, “Whatever credibility the United States had as an advocate for human rights has almost entirely vanished since the war began.”

Miller stated in the Wednesday press briefing that State Department personnel are given avenues through which they can openly dissent to higher-ups and conduct meetings on policy disagreements.

“When dissent cables are authored on any issue, [the Secretary of State] meets with employees who have a broad range of views. He listens to their feedback, and he takes it into account in his decision-making,” Miller said. “And he encourages other senior leaders in the department to do so as well. And that’s what he will continue to do and what we will all try to continue to do, because we believe that actually listening to dissent informs better decisions — having our having decisions challenged helps us make better ones in the future.”

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State Department seal

A view of a plaque depicting the United States Department of State logo in Washington D.C. (Celal Gunes / Anadolu Agency)

Sheline affirmed in a previous interview with the Washington Post that she attended multiple internal listening sessions in which personnel were able to voice dissenting points of view about policy.

“I wasn’t able to really do my job anymore,” she told the Post. “Trying to advocate for human rights just became impossible.”

However, the vocal coalition of disgruntled State Department personnel have been unable to budge official policy — which Sheline says ultimately forced her resignation.

“I had not initially planned a public resignation. Because my time at State had been so short — I was hired on a two-year contract — I did not think I mattered enough to announce my resignation publicly. However, when I started to tell colleagues of my decision to resign, the response I heard repeatedly was, ‘Please speak for us,'” Sheline wrote in her CNN column.

SOURCE

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