LONDON: A group of about 800 officials spanning the US, UK and EU have signed a public letter condemning the support of their governments for Israel’s war in Gaza.
It is the first time that officials from across Western countries have coalesced to criticize the levels of support their governments have given toward Israel, supporters told the New York Times.
The letter urges a change in direction by Western governments toward the war, with signatories warning that they tried to raise concerns internally but were rebuffed.
“Our governments’ current policies weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to stand up for freedom, justice and human rights globally,” it says.
“There is a plausible risk that our governments’ policies are contributing to grave violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes and even ethnic cleansing or genocide.”
The letter does not include the names of signatories over fears that they could face repercussions domestically, said one official who has worked for the US State Department for more than two decades.
It comes amid growing anger within the ranks of civil services in the US, UK and Europe, with officials angered over the foreign policies of their governments.
Of the roughly 800 signatories, 80 are from the US, with the majority working for the State Department.
One source said national-level officials from eight NATO member states, as well as Sweden and Switzerland, had approved the letter.
Officials from EU institutions make up the highest number of signatories, followed by the Netherlands and the US.
Josh Paul, who worked for the State Department overseeing arms transfers but resigned in October over disagreements with the Biden administration, warned of “unprecedented tensions” within the civil service.
“The political decision-making of Western governments and institutions has created unprecedented tensions with the expertise and duty that apolitical civil servants bring to bear,” he said.
“One-sided support for Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, and a blindness to Palestinian humanity, is both a moral failure and, for the harm it does to Western interests around the globe, a policy failure.”
The multi-country letter follows a series of similar pronouncements by officials in the US. In November, President Joe Biden received a letter from more than 500 employees across 40 agencies condemning his policies on the war.
Within the EU dissent has also mounted, with hundreds of officials representing the bloc’s humanitarian and aid agenda also penning similar letters last year to EU leaders.
Only several EU member states have publicly called for a ceasefire in Gaza or a moderation of European support toward Israel, most prominently Ireland, Spain and Belgium.
Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch diplomat who supports the signatories of the letter, told the New York Times: “Being a civil servant doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to keep on thinking. When the system produces perverse decisions or actions, we have a responsibility to stop it. It’s not as simple as ‘shut up and do what you’re told’; we’re also paid to think.”