Top Biden Aid Official For Gaza Will Soon Leave Post


Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, speaks with David Satterfield, right, director of Rice University's Baker Institute, during the Shell Distinguished Lecture Series at Rice University Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, speaks with David Satterfield, right, director of Rice University’s Baker Institute, during the Shell Distinguished Lecture Series at Rice University Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, speaks with David Satterfield, right, director of Rice University’s Baker Institute, during the Shell Distinguished Lecture Series at Rice University Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

David Satterfield, a retired ambassador who President Joe Biden appointed as a special Middle East envoy on humanitarian issues focused on the Israel-Hamas war, will leave his post in the coming weeks, according to a source familiar with his plans and a U.S. official.

The departure is striking amid Israel’s ongoing U.S.-backed offensive in Gaza, which it launched against Hamas — the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group — following a shock Oct. 7 attack inside Israel. The United Nations and aid groups warn Gaza faces famine and the amount of humanitarian assistance flowing into the territory is deeply insufficient given restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Spokespeople for the State Department — where Satterfield is serving — did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment.

Satterfield will likely return to his role at the Baker Institute at Rice University, from which he took a limited break to serve as a U.S. special envoy. It’s not immediately clear if Biden will appoint a replacement given the dire conditions in Gaza.

Satterfield’s tenure was controversial: HuffPost reported that he suggested moving Palestinian refugees in Gaza into Egypt, an idea that the U.S. has publicly disavowed and that would be met with huge opposition from Palestinians and their supporters. The move would be especially fraught given Gazans’ ties to their homes of decades and would spur echoes of the forced displacement of Palestinians into the territory that became Israel in 1948, a process widely referred to in the Arab world as the “Nakba” or catastrophe.

Outside observers were skeptical of Satterfield’s work, noting how his time in office saw a significant collapse in the conditions for Gazans as well as a continued bombardment by Israel that President Joe Biden referred to as “indiscriminate.”

In December, HuffPost reported that Satterfield had not responded to requests from aid agencies for a meeting. “I don’t think the United States has been effective on either the policy or the logistics and the operations of aid delivery,” said Dave Harden, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development operations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank between 2013 and 2016, at the time.



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