Some Palestinian Americans decline invite to meet Blinken

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hold a press conference in Washington

By Kanishka Singh and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some members of the Palestinian American community who received an invite to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday declined the invitation over their frustration with Washington's policy toward the conflict and crisis in Gaza.

"A meeting of this nature at this moment in time is insulting and performative," a group of Palestinian American community members said in a statement, adding they represented a majority of those invited.

Members from the Arab, Palestinian and Muslim communities in the United States, as well as anti-war activists across the country, have protested American policy in the conflict in Gaza, where about 27,000 people, more than 1% of Gaza's 2.3 million population, have died in Israel's assault, according to the Gazan health ministry.

Israel launched its offensive in Hamas-governed Gaza following the Palestinian Islamist group's Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military action and strikes have flattened much of the densely populated enclave and displaced nearly all its population, with many also feared buried in rubble.

"They (Blinken and President Joe Biden) show us every day whose lives they value and whose lives they consider disposable. We will not be attending this discussion which can only amount to a box-ticking exercise," the Palestinian American group said on Thursday, adding it saw Washington as complicit in Israeli actions.

The humanitarian crisis has left Gaza on the brink of starvation. The United Nations has called for a humanitarian ceasefire, which the U.S. has opposed, saying it would let Hamas regroup.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson on Thursday told reporters Blinken met with a "number of leaders" from the Palestinian American community, without specifying how many attended.

Protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza have recently occurred across the U.S., including near airports and bridges in New York City and Los Angeles, vigils outside the White House and marches in Washington.

Demonstrators have also protested at Biden speeches and campaign events, including in Michigan on Thursday.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates)