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Biden: Support for Israel, Ukraine is ‘vital’ to U.S. security

On October 19, 2023, US President Joe Biden delivered a speech on the war between Israel and Ukraine in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
On October 19, 2023, US President Joe Biden delivered a speech on the war between Israel and Ukraine in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

U.S. President Joe Biden called victory in the wars between Israel and Ukraine “critical to U.S. national security” in a speech in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday night. Biden elaborated on the reasons for the United States to be deeply involved in Israeli and Ukrainian affairs, and he will make a request for billions of dollars in military assistance to the U.S. Congress.

Biden said that if international aggression is allowed to continue, “conflict and chaos could spread to other parts of the world.”

“Hamas and Putin represent different threats,” Biden said. “But they have one thing in common. They want to completely destroy neighboring democracies.”

He said he would submit an emergency appropriation request to Congress, which is expected to reach about $100 billion next year. The request, which will be released on Friday, includes funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, humanitarian aid, and border management.

“This is a smart investment that will benefit American security for generations,” Biden said.

Biden hopes that combining all these issues into one piece of legislation can build the political coalition necessary to win congressional approval. The day before Biden’s speech, he made an important visit to Israel. During the visit, Biden expressed solidarity with Israel in its battle with Hamas and pushed for more humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The White House said Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before delivering his remarks, stressing that the United States remained committed to supporting Kyiv. A senior White House official said Biden’s Thursday speech was the product of a week of work with close aides and was still being prepared on his flight home from Israel.

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Biden faces a series of daunting challenges as he works to secure funding. The House of Representatives remains in disarray; the Republican majority cannot agree on a speaker to replace ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Additionally, conservative Republicans oppose sending more weapons to Ukraine as the country’s battle against Russia’s invasion approaches two years. Despite Zelensky’s personal plea, Biden’s previous funding requests were removed from the budget legislation last month, including $24 billion to help Ukraine fight in the coming months.

The White House has warned that time is running out to prevent Ukraine from losing ground to Russia due to reduced arms supplies. Ukraine has recently struggled to make headway in a grueling counteroffensive.

U.S. military aid to Israel also faces resistance from the left wing of U.S. politics. Israel bombed the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attack on October 7. Critics accuse Israel of committing war crimes by causing civilian casualties and cutting off basic supplies of food, water, and fuel.

Bipartisan support for Israel has waned in recent years. Israel, a progressive Democrat, has fiercely opposed its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories.

There are also divisions within the Biden administration. Josh Paul, a U.S. State Department official who heads the State Department’s Congressional Liaison Office on Foreign Arms Sales, resigned over dissatisfaction with the U.S. policy of shipping weapons to Israel.

Biden’s decision to include aid for Taiwan in his proposal underscores the importance the U.S. attaches to another possible international conflict. China hopes to unify Taiwan with the mainland and does not rule out the use of force.

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While the war in Europe and the Middle East has been the most immediate concern for U.S. foreign policy, Biden sees Asia as a key arena in the battle for global influence. The U.S. government’s national security strategy released last year described China as “the United States’ most important geopolitical challenge.”

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