Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a group of State Department officials engaged in formal dissents over President Joe Biden’s approach to the war between Israel and Hamas, according to a current and 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. It came amid enormous domestic frustration in the state over a sense that Biden has ignored the expertise of national security officials and sidestepped normal consultation processes in his approach to demonstrating support for Israel.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the meeting beyond saying that «the Secretary meets regularly with colleagues, including those who may hold dissenting views.»
Department spokesman Matthew Miller previously said Blinken welcomes dissent and diversity of opinion at the agency. But officials have told HuffPost that when they describe concerns based on their experience, managers have told them that those views are highly unlikely to change U.S. policy, and in one case told officials that they should focus on trying to generate an impact in other parts of the world. than Israel-Palestine.
This week, the department launched a new series of small group sessions between leaders and rank-and-file officials, according to an internal message seen by HuffPost. The ad described the leaders sharing their views and He did not specify what impact, if any, expressing different points of view might have.
Blinken previously met with officials unhappy with U.S. policies, including staff who questioned U.S. support for a brutal Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, the former official said, noting that the meeting occurred when the secretary was the No. 2 official. of the department during the presidency. Barack Obama. Obama largely continued this policy during his term.
The Biden administration has shown some signs of public concern over Israel’s conduct in its Gaza offensive, which the Israelis launched after the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas’ vicious attack inside Israel on October 7. Biden and Blinken this week backed the idea of a “humanitarian pause” to allow more aid to flow to the beleaguered region.
However, the United States has not said it might reduce its support based on Israel’s response to humanitarian concerns or signs that the country may be violating international law by using disproportionate force, and some observers fear that a pause will only allow a longest period of fighting.
On Friday, Blinken told his Israeli counterparts that he believes a pause will help the United States continue to defend and support Israel’s ground operation in Gaza, where millions of people will likely be trapped regardless of a pause, Axios revealed.
“We don’t want to stop you, but help us help you get more time,” Blinken told the Israelis privately, a US official and two Israelis told the outlet.