White House holds meeting with Arab American groups on aid to Gaza

Meeting with Jake Sullivan comes as Israel prepares for ground invasion of the Gaza Strip

The White House on Monday was lit in blue and white, the colours of the Israeli flag. AP
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US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan invited several leaders of Arab American and Muslim American groups to the White House on Friday to discuss the latest developments in the Israel-Gaza war, a source told The National.

Mr Sullivan and members of his team discussed the entry of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip and helping civilians, including Palestinian Americans, to leave.

Mr Sullivan “basically said they're pushing for humanitarian aid”, a source told The National.

“He said they pushed back against Israelis for giving the Palestinians only 24 hours to move from the north to the centre [of Gaza].”

During the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, Arab American figures also raised concerns about a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment in the US, the source said.

The meeting comes amid mounting concerns in Washington and around the world about the looming deadline that Israel gave more than one million Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip to flee.

The UN and other organisations warned of a humanitarian crisis that could impact the 2.3 million residents of the Strip after the Israeli government cut off water, electricity, food and medicine supplies to the Palestinian enclave.

They called on the siege to be lifted to allow in aid.

Israel has been bombarding entire neighbourhoods in Gaza since Saturday, after Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on parts of Israel's south, killing about 1,300 people and taking scores of hostages.

President Joe Biden on Friday said it was a priority “to urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” and that US teams were working with the governments of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab nations as well as the UN.

“We can't lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians have nothing to do with Hamas, and Hamas' appalling attacks,” he said during a visit to Philadelphia, “and they're suffering as a result as well.”

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Updated: October 14, 2023, 4:20 AM