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Blinken to meet with Arab, Palestinian Americans amid growing tensions with Biden administration

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to meet with Palestinian and Arab American leaders Friday evening, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

The gathering has been in the works for about a month and the leaders plan to urge the Biden administration to make a number of policy changes regarding the war between Israel and Hamas, one of the sources said. Several of the planned leaders requested a meeting with Blinken and they worked to find a mutually agreeable date, the second source said.

The meeting comes as tensions between the Biden administration and the Palestinian, Muslim and Arab-American communities increase. It also comes as the administration struggles to reach Arab American voters who have taken a general stance of boycotting such meetings and voting without commitment in presidential primaries.

Pro-Palestinian university protests calling for an end to U.S. support for the Israeli military have erupted on campuses across the country in recent weeks. On many college campuses, chants broke out such as: “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide, we’re accusing you of genocide.” »

And while Biden halted a bomb shipment to Israel last week and said he would stop other shipments if Israel launched a major invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the administration also says that US military support for Israel’s defense will continue.

A State Department spokesperson did not comment on the meeting.

Opposition among some Muslim, Arab American and progressive voters to the war in Gaza is a growing problem for the president’s re-election campaign as the November election approaches. And the latest meetings between Biden administration officials and members of these communities have not paved the way for growing collaboration.

Blinken has met with members of these communities twice since October 7, and Friday will mark his third meeting. This week’s meeting is in line with his previous commitments, the second source said, adding that Blinken also met with Jewish leaders on several occasions. His last meeting with Palestinian-Americans in February was marked by a number of guests deciding not to attend, convinced they could not change the administration’s policies.

Biden hosted several Muslim leaders at the White House to discuss Gaza last month, but the meeting was disrupted after its only Palestinian-American participant — Dr. Thaer Ahmad, who traveled to Gaza to treat injured civilians — left the meeting in protest after delivering a letter to Biden. of an 8-year-old orphan living in Rafah.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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