US President Joe Biden held a closed-door meeting with Muslim-American leaders amid growing concerns over a rise in Islamophobia in the country and anger over Washington's response to the Israel-Gaza war.
Mr Biden and members of his team held the meeting with five Muslim-American representatives on Thursday, a source told The National.
The meeting comes after the White House on Friday said it would not be drawing any “red lines” for Israel, even as its military intensified ground operations in Gaza and ordered more civilians in the north to leave their homes and flee to the south.
It also came amid anger from Muslim and Arab Americans, as well as parts of Mr Biden's Democratic Party, over his response to the bombardment of Gaza that began after Hamas gunmen launched an attack that killed 1,400 people in Israel
More than 7,200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air and ground strikes, and a humanitarian crisis is worsening amid the tightening of the siege on Gaza, which has included blocking the entry of water, food, medicine and fuel.
Israel's intensification of military operations on Friday raised concerns that it was preparing for an imminent ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas.
The UN and the international community have been calling for a ceasefire that would allow for the entry of aid and a safe passage for civilians out of the area.
The UN General Assembly on Friday approved a resolution drafted by 22 Arab nations calling for a “sustained humanitarian truce”.
The US has vetoed two Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire and has instead been calling for a “humanitarian pause” that would allow for the entry of aid, the exit of civilians and the release of the hostages held by Hamas.
Washington has said that it supports Israel's right to defend itself and has pledged more military assistance to the country.
On Monday, representatives of Arab and Palestinian-American groups held a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during which they sounded the alarm over Mr Biden's dwindling support in their communities.
And on October 13, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan invited several leaders of Arab-American and Muslim-American groups to the White House to discuss the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza and helping civilians, including Palestinian Americans, to leave the besieged area.
Representatives said that Mr Biden's position on the war has dehumanised Muslim and Arab Americans, and is fuelling a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment.