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US Congressional delegation meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem

The Prime Minister welcomed the members of the delegation on their arrival and thanked them for their broad support…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem with a bipartisan US Congressional delegation, organised by AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The Prime Minister welcomed the members of the delegation on their arrival and thanked them for their broad support for the State of Israel among the American public.

He also briefed them on the fighting in the Gaza Strip and answered their questions.

Netanyahu said the members of the delegation were “long-time friends of Israel” and called them “great supporters.”

“It’s very important for us to maintain bipartisan support at all times,” he told them, “but especially in these trying times. I want to use this opportunity of our conversation to try to straighten out and also dispel some of the things that are being said about our bipartisan alliance and the importance of maintaining it.”

Netanyahu also told them that Iran “officially launched, along with Hezbollah, a campaign, which means Hamas, the Houthis and so on, but the formal policy is to shift from an ideological position of destroying Israel to a practical, long-term plan to bring about the destruction of the state.”

“We have to win. There is no substitute for victory,” he added.

“Our goal is to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas in Gaza,” Netanyahu told them. “Hamas has to be eliminated.”

“The second thing was to get our hostages out. They are simultaneous goals because the military action is what produces the pressure to release the hostages. We’ve released half. We intend to release all of them. The third thing is to ensure that, indeed Gaza doesn’t pose a threat to Israel again.”

The delegation included Brad Schneider (D-IL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Valerie Foushee (D-NC), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), as well as senior AIPAC officials. (ANI/TPS)

State Dept staffer quits over US’ Gaza policy

A US State Department staffer responsible for promoting human rights in regions including Gaza has resigned in protest of the continued delivery of weapons from the US to Israel.

Annelle Sheline left the State Department on Wednesday after having served for a year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, according to an editor’s note from CNN proceeding an opinion piece by Sheline in which the employee explained the reason for her resignation.

In the article published on CNN’s website, Sheline blamed the US government for offering support, both diplomatically and militarily, to “atrocities committed” by the Israeli military in the ongoing war in Gaza, and the “killing of Palestinians by armed Israeli settlers” in the West Bank. These actions by Israel “meet the crime of genocide”, she said, citing testimonies by experts on genocide.

“Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State,” Sheline said.

Sheline said she 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.”

“Across the federal government, employees like me have tried for months to influence policy, both internally and, when that failed, publicly,” she said.

“My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel and authorized thousands more, even bypassing Congress to do so. We are appalled by the administration’s flagrant disregard for American laws that prohibit the U.S. from providing assistance to foreign militaries that engage in gross human rights violations or that restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid,” wrote Sheline in the article.

None of Sheline’s posts on X can be seen anymore, with a note on the page of her account saying “these posts are being protected”.

The latest episode followed the stepping down for a similar reason in October of Josh Paul, a senior State Department official in charge of overseeing foreign arms transfers, as well as the self-immolation of US airman Aaron Bushnell in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. in February.

During a press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday, Matthew Miller, the department’s spokesperson, said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken not only “has instructed his team … to make sure people have an opportunity to make their views known, but also has taken those dissenting ideas into account when making policy decisions”.

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