Wednesday July 17th, 2024 9:13PM

Biden will host Muslim leaders at White House for a meeting on Gaza and a scaled-down iftar dinner

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is hosting a small group of Muslim American community leaders at the White House for a meeting on Tuesday followed by a scaled-down iftar dinner, as he seeks to relieve tensions over his administration's staunch support for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be joined by Muslim staffers in the Democratic administration and senior national security aides, a White House official said, in the most high-profile engagement yet between the White House and the Muslim American community since the war began six months ago. Muslim staffers will then join the president for a dinner to break the fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

The White House did not immediately name the community members who would join the meeting.

For the past two years, Biden has held large receptions to mark Ramadan and Eid at the White House, but those plans were shelved this year amid the war, which has seen more than 30,000 people killed in Gaza, the majority estimated to be civilians. More than 1,200 Israelis were killed in the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 last year, and about 250 Israeli troops have died in fighting since then.

White House officials previously traveled to Detroit earlier this year and faced an icy reception from Muslim American community leaders in the swing state, where more than 100,000 Democratic primary voters cast protest votes for “uncommitted” as part of an organized showing of disapproval for Biden's posture toward the conflict.

News of Biden's meeting was first reported by National Public Radio.

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