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The president recounted the first lady’s concerns as he was pressed about the war at a meeting with Muslim community members.

Jill Biden, in a green jacket, speaks into a microphone in front of a large US flag in the background.
Jill Biden, the first lady, is one of the few in the president’s inner circle who offers an unvarnished opinion on matters of policy and politics.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

One of the strongest voices inside the White House urging an end to civilian casualties in Gaza is the person closest to the president: Jill Biden.

At a meeting with Muslim community members at the White House on Tuesday evening, one guest told President Biden that his wife had disapproved of him coming to the meeting because of Mr. Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Mr. Biden replied that he understood. The first lady, he said, had been urging him to “Stop it, stop it now,” according to an attendee who heard his remarks.

Salima Suswell, the founder of the Black Muslim Leadership Council, recounted the scene in an interview, adding that she had scribbled down the president’s statements because it was so striking to hear that the first lady felt strongly about the conflict.

“He said she said, ‘Stop it, stop it now, Joe,’” Ms. Suswell said.

Asked about the president’s remarks, White House officials on Wednesday said that there was no daylight between Mr. Biden and the first lady on the conflict and that the president was as outraged by the civilian casualties as his wife has been. The officials said the first lady was not calling for Israel to end its efforts against Hamas.

“Just like the president, the first lady is heartbroken over the attacks on aid workers and the ongoing loss of innocent lives in Gaza,” Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement. “They both want Israel to do more to protect civilians.”


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