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Biden administration staffers call for ceasefire at vigil outside White House

By Camila DeChalus, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Political appointees and Biden administration staffers held a vigil in front of the White House on Wednesday to call on President Joe Biden to support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

More than three dozen people, including political appointees, administration staffers and civil service career staff, attended the early evening vigil in front of the White House. The participants wore sunglasses and masks to conceal their identities.

Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned from his job in October over disagreement with the Biden administration’s approach to the Israel-Hamas war, delivered opening remarks. A former administration staffer also read a statement given to him by a group of Palestinian administration officials who did not want to be identified.

“The US government’s decision to double down on fueling the violence has put our objectives … around the globe in jeopardy for us to achieve any movement on some of the most intractable issues we face today,” read the former administration official.

The group that organized the vigil called the violence that has unfolded in Gaza over the last few weeks “unacceptable.”

“The temporary ceasefire ended 13 days ago, and we have been horrified to see the full resumption of killings, displacement and bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. A temporary pause to this violence was never enough. We must move with urgency to save as many lives as possible and achieve an immediate, permanent ceasefire agreement and the return of all hostages,” according to prepared remarks Paul made at the vigil on behalf of the group.

He also said: “The American people and respected institutions like the United Nations are pleading for a ceasefire, but this administration has yet to listen. We demand President Biden and members of the Cabinet to speak up: Call for a permanent ceasefire, a release of all hostages and an immediate de-escalation now.”

This vigil comes at a time when there has been growing internal frustration among staffers within the Biden administration on how the president has responded following Hamas’ October 7 attack.

Last month, more than 700 staffers and political appointees signed a letter calling on the president to support a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The letter was signed by staffers who work in more than 30 departments and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, FBI and NASA.

“We call on President Biden to urgently demand a ceasefire and to call for de-escalation of the current conflict by securing the immediate release of the Israeli hostages and arbitrarily detained Palestinians; the restoration of water, fuel, electricity, and other basic services; and the passage of adequate humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip,” the letter stated.

Last month, dozens of congressional staffers also held a vigil in front of the US Capitol to call for a ceasefire.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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