Biden faces growing internal dissent over supporting Israel's war on Gaza

Biden faces growing internal dissent over supporting Israel's war on Gaza
Biden is facing pressure from his own staff and federal government workers, which could possibly make it more difficult to dismiss public opinion on the war.
3 min read
Washington, DC
16 January, 2024
Biden is facing growing internal pressure to change course in his support for Israel's war in Gaza. [Getty]

As US President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure from voters to press Israel for a ceasefire in Gaza, he is also facing pressure from his own staff and federal government workers, which could make it more challenging to dismiss public opinion on the war.

On Tuesday, 16 January, employees from around a dozen government agencies plan to stage a walkout over Biden's support for Israel's war in Gaza, which has so far killed more than 24,000 Palestinians in the tiny Mediterranean enclave.

According to a report by Al-Monitor, hundreds of federal employees, calling themselves Feds United For Peace, are expected to walk out on Tuesday in what participants are reportedly calling a "day of mourning" as they mark the passage of 100 days since the war began. Instead of quitting their positions, they said speaking out from the inside was important.

House Speaker Mike Johnson responded to the news of the planned walkout by saying that any federal workers who participated in the planned walkout should be fired.

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This initiative by federal workers follows at least two significant resignations from the Biden administration over his handling of the war. In October, Josh Paul, a State Department official, resigned, saying in a (now unavailable) LinkedIn post that he made the decision "due to a policy disagreement concerning our continued lethal assistance to Israel."

Earlier this month, Tariq Habash, who served in the Department of Education, himself a Palestinian American, became the first Biden appointee to resign over the war. In his resignation letter, he wrote, "I cannot stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives..." 

Adding to the pressure on Biden is South Africa's accusation of genocide by Israel in Gaza at the International Court of Justice. 

"We unequivocally join world leaders and international human rights organizations in support of South Africa's case before the International Court of Justice alleging Israel violated the Genocide Convention," said the congresswomen in a joint statement on Thursday.

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"There must be an end to the violence—and there must be accountability for the blatant human rights abuses and mass atrocities occurring in the region," they continued.

The congresswomen noted the historical importance of South Africa as a post-apartheid state being the country to bring the case to court, and they vowed to continue advocating for a ceasefire.

This internal dissent is far from matching the US public opinion, in which around 68 per cent favour a ceasefire. However, it is significant given the rarity of a leader's own party members firmly disapproving of his foreign policy. Moreover, with campaign season underway, his own party's Democratic voters at all levels are speaking out at a sensitive time.