Skip to main content

US State Department Arabic spokesperson resigns over Gaza policy

Hala Rharrit is the third State Department official to step down over Washington's support for Israel's war
Hala Rharrit, Arabic language spokesperson for the State Department, has quit in protest (United States Department of State)

The Arabic language spokesperson of the US State Department has resigned over Washington's Gaza war policy, in the third resignation from the department since the war began.

Hala Rharrit posted her resignation on the LinkedIn social media site, stating: "I resigned April 2024 after 18 years of distinguished service in opposition to the United States' Gaza policy."

Rharrit, who joined the State Department as a political and human rights officer, was also the department's Dubai regional media hub deputy director.

When asked about the resignation, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday that the department has channels for its staff to share views when they disagree with government policies.

In late March, Annelle Sheline, a foreign affairs officer in the State Department's human rights bureau, stepped down in protest over the Biden administration’s support for Israel, saying it had made her job promoting human rights "almost impossible". 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Earlier, veteran State Department official Josh Paul, a former director overseeing US arms transfers, resigned over Biden’s "destructive, unjust" supply of arms to Israel just days after the war on Gaza began.

In January, a senior Palestinian-American official in the US Education Department, Tariq Habash, resigned from his post, saying he could no longer "stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives."

Pro-Palestinian students vow to 'de-occupy' Princeton after administration halts encampment
Read More »

Despite mounting international criticism of Israel’s offensive that has killed more than 34,300 people and flattened swathes of Gaza, the Biden administration has continued to provide its ally with a steady stream of weapons.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House was eyeing an additional $1bn weapons deal with Israel.

On Wednesday, the US Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing an aid bill that will provide $26bn in aid for Israel and Palestine, with $4bn set to replenish Israel's missile defence system and roughly $9bn slated for humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

There have been reports of internal dissent within the Biden administration as the death toll in Gaza continues to mount.

In November, more than 1,000 officials at USAID, the State Department's international aid organisation, signed an open letter calling for an immediate ceasefire. Cables criticising the administration's policy have also been filed with the State Department's internal "dissent channel".

The war has also sparked widespread anti-war demonstrations across the United States, with protests in recent weeks escalating across US universities.

Student-led protests have seen encampments set up on major campuses demanding divestment from companies involved in Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and "genocide" in Gaza. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.