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Former State Department official explains resignation over US support of Israel

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(WASHINGTON) — Annelle Sheline publicly resigned in March from her position with the U.S. State Department over the Biden administration’s Israel policy.

Sheline, who holds a Ph.D., worked for one year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

She resigned from her job due to the administration’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict. According to Sheline, she initially attempted to voice her opposition within the administration and found that many of her colleagues at the State Department shared her concerns and were also devastated by the impact of U.S. policy on Palestinians in Gaza.

Sheline sat down with ABC News Live to talk about her departure in-depth and how she was shocked and horrified by the terrorist acts of Hamas.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Joining us now for more is Doctor and Annelle Sheline, a former U.S. State Department official who resigned weeks ago from her position over the administration’s stance on the war. Dr. Sheline, you just heard Matt’s story. What is your reaction to the images and videos that IDF soldiers are posting on social media?

ANNELLE SHELINE: I think they’re very disturbing. I think that it reflects the impunity that these members of the IDF are accustomed to operating. That they know that they will face no repercussions as the IDF soldier, dual national in South Africa, said. He hadn’t heard anything from the IDF, condemning what he had done or any sort of, repercussions and disciplinary measures.

I think that obviously this comes from the top. This is something that also reflects the fact that the United States has continued to provide unconditional military aid to Israel for years, regardless of years of human rights abuses. And my concern is that even now, with the levels of devastation and the violation of international law that Israel is engaging in, we still are not, in fact, seeing the U.S. condition military aid.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I want to get more into your resignation. You wrote in an op ed: “Whatever credibility that the United States has had as an advocate for human rights has almost entirely vanished since the war began.” Now, Dr. Sheline, you know, you worked in an office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East. At what point did you decide that it was better to speak up from the outside, as opposed to try to have a seat at the table on the inside?

SHELINE: At first I tried to raise opposition on the inside. Like many of my colleagues, people inside the State Department, many of them are devastated by what U.S. policy is enabling Israel to do to Palestinians inside Gaza. I co-authored a dissent memo. I signed two other dissent cables. I attended internal forums to speak about what was happening, to raise concerns, and I let my supervisors know that I would be resigning over Gaza.

I initially was not planning to resign publicly. I just let it be known inside the department that I, that why I was resigning. But then it was with come in conversation with colleagues at State who said that they they hoped I would reconsider. They hoped I would resign publicly. They hoped that I would contribute to the public pressure because that does seem to be the only thing that is having any kind of an impact, even though up to this point, we really have not seen the Biden administration adopt a new approach.

They continue to send weapons. We’ve seen announcements of new weapons. It’s, it’s really shocking that this has been allowed to go on for six months now.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Dr. Sheline, let’s go back to October 7. How did you feel on that afternoon about what happened in Israel? Did you agree with the initial justification for going into Gaza that Israel had a right to defend itself?

SHELINE: I was shocked and horrified by the terrorist acts of Hamas. This is a terrorist organization. However, fairly quickly it became clear that Israel’s intent was not to merely rescue their hostages or go in with a surgical strikes to go after the leaders of Hamas that were responsible for that, but instead to engage in a policy of collective punishment.

There were statements from senior Israeli officials saying they were going to cut off water, electricity, food. I, unfortunately, the the way again, that U.S. policy has given Israel a green light for decades, I think is why we’re seeing such a horrifying outcome right now in Gaza.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I understand you voted for Joe Biden in 2020. I’m curious this time around. Are you planning to sit the election out, or can either candidate earn your vote now in 2024?

SHELINE: Part of the reason I’m speaking out is in hopes that it will contribute to this pressure on President Biden. Many people are engaging in this because I do, I know for some he’s lost their vote. And, you know, there’s no way they would vote for him. But I would if he took the measures that he is able to take.

You know, Israel, Israeli officials themselves have said they cannot conduct this war without U.S. weapons. So I want Biden to uphold American law and stop American military support for Israel.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Dr. Annelle Sheline thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.

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