Another State Dept Official Resigns Over US Gaza Policy Amid Growing Student Protests

WASHINGTON, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 26th Apr, 2024) United States State Department’s spokesperson for the middle East and North Africa, Hala Rharrit, has resigned in protest of America’s policy on Gaza — at least the third high-profile resignation from the department, as pro-Palestinian demonstrations at university campuses across the country grow.

Ms. Rharrit was also the Dubai Regional Media Hub‘s deputy director and joined the State Department almost two decades ago as a political and human rights officer, the department’s website showed.

“I resigned April 2024 after 18 years of distinguished service in opposition to the United StatesGaza policy. Diplomacy, not arms. Be a force for peace and unity,” Hala Rharrit wrote in a LinkedIn post, according to Al Arabiya.

“Diplomacy, not arms. Be a force for peace and unity,” she added.

A State Department spokesperson, asked about the resignation in Thursday’s press briefing, said the department has channels for its workforce to share views when it disagrees with government policies. Under close questioning, Spokesperson Vendant Patel refused to go beyond saying, “This is a personal matter.”

Nearly a month earlier, Annelle Sheline of the State Department’s human rights bureau announced her resignation, and State Department official Josh Paul resigned in October.

A senior official in the US education Department, Tariq Habash, who is Palestinian-American, had stepped down in January.

The United States has come under mounting criticism internationally and from human rights groups over its support for ally Israel which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, caused a grave humanitarian crisis, and stands accused of genocide in Gaza.

Meanwhile in New York, protesters at Columbia University, an epicenter of growing student dissent against Israeli aggression in Gaza, faced a deadline Thursday to dismantle their encampment as protests and arrests intensified across the United States.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik warned students that if the tents aren’t moved by Friday, “we will have to consider options for restoring calm to campus.”

In an update late Thursday, the university said talks between student protestors and the school have “shown progress and are continuing.” The school, the scene of more than 100 arrests in recent days, also denied rumours that the New York City Police Department was invited to the campus on Thursday night.

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson lashed out Thursday at Columbia protesters, who booed him during his visit to the school a day earlier. Johnson had criticized students and faculty who participated in the protest and called for Shafik’s resignation.

“Hamas backed these protests at Columbia,” Johnson claimed in a social media post. “The things that have happened at the hands of Hamas are horrific, and yet these protestors are out there waving flags for the very people who committed those crimes. This is not who we are in America.”

Demonstrators across the nation are protesting the civilian toll in Gaza, where more than 34,000 people have died since the Israeli invasion on Oct 7.

Students oppose U.S. military aid to Israel and want their schools to stop investing endowment money in companies with Israeli links.

Meanwhile, amid the turmoil, the University of Southern California said it was canceling its main commencement ceremony, citing safety concerns.
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