Andrew Miller, State Dept. expert on Israel-Palestine, quits amid Gaza war

A senior State Department official and skeptic of the Biden administration’s “bear hug” method to the federal government of Israel resigned this week in a setback for U.S. diplomats pushing for a sharper break with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition, stated three folks accustomed to the matter.

Andrew Miller, the deputy assistant secretary for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, informed colleagues Friday that he had determined to depart his job. He cited his household, saying he has seen them sparingly because the eight-month war in Gaza has turn out to be all-consuming. Miller informed colleagues that if not for these obligations, he would have most well-liked to stay in his job and struggle for what he believes, together with in these areas the place he disagreed with administration coverage.

Miller’s resignation, which has not been beforehand reported, comes amid rising frustration inside and outdoors authorities over the war’s steep civilian demise toll and concerns amongst some that affect over coverage issues has been dominated by a slender coterie of President Biden’s closest advisers. Miller is essentially the most senior U.S. official to resign thus far whose portfolio focuses on Israeli-Palestinian points.

“His departure will be a loss for the administration in general and the State Department in particular,” stated Suzanne Maloney, vice chairman and director of international coverage on the Brookings Institution. “It’s a telling indicator of the general toll that the conflict has taken on those who have been working to deal with its security implications for the United States and its allies.”

People who know Miller describe him as a principled supporter of Palestinian rights and statehood, and a nuanced thinker about Middle East affairs. Before his job focusing on Israeli-Palestinian points, he was a senior coverage adviser to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and through the Obama administration, he served as director for Egypt and Israel navy points on the White House National Security Council.

Those accustomed to Miller’s determination to depart spoke on the situation of anonymity to be candid a couple of personnel matter.

“Andrew brought deep experience and sharp perspective to the table every day,” stated State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “Everyone here is sorry to see him go, but we wish him well in his next endeavors.”

Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert who has suggested each Democratic and Republican administrations, referred to as Andrew Miller a “smart” and “creative” diplomat however stated it had turn out to be tough for officers on the division’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to affect coverage.

“He was caught in a bureau of well-intentioned and capable Foreign Service officers who have had little or no impact on U.S. policy before and even after October 7,” stated Aaron Miller, noting the date when Hamas militants led a cross-border assault into Israel that killed 1,200 folks and took greater than 240 hostages.

Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, rejected that characterization of the bureau, noting that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has introduced its chief, Barbara Leaf, on all eight of his journeys to the Middle East since Oct. 7 and has relied on her extensively as she carries messages from him and the president to leaders all through the area.

Israel’s retaliatory navy marketing campaign has killed greater than 37,000 Palestinians, based on native well being authorities, and divided officers throughout the U.S. authorities concerning the applicable response.

At the outset of the battle, Biden supplied his full backing to the Israelis, surging weapons into the battle and offering diplomatic and political cowl at worldwide establishments — at the same time as Israel employed indiscriminate bombing techniques and impeded entry to humanitarian assist. Despite that assist, Netanyahu has repeatedly ignored U.S. calls for to take a extra surgical method in Gaza and chorus from exacerbating tensions with Palestinians, reminiscent of withholding their tax income and utilizing incendiary rhetoric.

Though Gaza coverage has been deeply divisive within the U.S. authorities, it has prompted solely a handful of resignations on the State Department, Pentagon and different federal businesses. Officials within the division have just lately been subjected to electronic mail campaigns encouraging protest resignations associated to the battle.

One U.S. official who is aware of Andrew Miller stated he was “ahead of the curve from the beginning” in recognizing the dangers of what has turn out to be often known as the administration’s “bear hug” technique, referring to Biden’s bodily embrace of Netanyahu throughout a go to to Tel Aviv within the days after Hamas’s assault. Miller is alleged to have believed that the leverage the United States has over Israel as its largest navy, financial and political backer may have been used extra successfully.

“He’s certainly on the more progressive side of administration officials when it comes to the region, including on Israel-Palestine, but he has also never been a ‘burn it all down and forgo pragmatism’ type,” stated the official. “He has always advocated that the United States should support Palestinian rights and statehood, but his advocacy while in government has generally been quiet and measured.”

Andrew Miller’s departure stunned many contained in the division, and several other U.S. officers stated he appealed to all sides of the contentious Israeli-Palestinian dispute. “During his time at the State Department, he was an unmatched supporter of Israel’s security and deeply attached to the fight against antisemitism,” stated a senior State Department official who labored with him extensively over time.

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