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State Department cracks down on Gaza-related leaks – Politico

Word of Antony Blinken’s displeasure was leaked to the media

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has directed his aides to stop the leaks of confidential discussions related to the Israel-Hamas conflict to the media, an unnamed State Department official told Politico.

Reuters got a hold of an internal State Department memo at the end of April, showing that several officials had advised Blinken that Israel’s assurances about US-supplied weapons were not “credible or reliable.” Someone at Foggy Bottom has also leaked details of proposals to broker a ceasefire and free the Israelis held captive by Hamas.

Blinken criticized the department leadership at a meeting earlier this month and said the leaks made diplomacy more difficult, but also “eroded trust within the State Department that documents or details of closed-door conversations wouldn’t find their way to a reporter,” according to Politico’s description.

The top diplomat urged his direct underlings to “help plug the leaks,” in particular those related to the conflict in Gaza, three unnamed officials told the outlet. One of them added that Blinken’s message had been “sternly delivered” throughout the department.

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The “constant stream of leaks” from Foggy Bottom is causing “increasing unease” in the Biden administration, according to Politico, and “underscores the intense frustrations” in Washington with failures to free the hostages and deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

Reports that lower-level officials believed Israel wasn’t using US-provided weapons in accordance with international law made Blinken “particularly displeased.” To comply with congressional demands for reporting on such matters, the White House said last week that it was “reasonable” to assume Israel was in violation, but stopped short of a formal assessment that would require weapons deliveries to stop.

Earlier this month, Israel shrugged off public warnings from the US not to proceed with an attack on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that most of the food and other aid for the Palestinian enclave was coming through. Talks between Israel and Hamas broke down completely over the weekend. 

On Monday, the International Criminal Court – which neither the US nor Israel recognize – sought arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders. Washington has previously threatened the ICC with military intervention should it dare to prosecute Israelis.

 

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