The speech marks a striking effort by Biden to link two global crises that have consumed much of his presidency, and it is expected to make a broad moral and practical argument about the United States’ role in the world.
The speech marks the culmination of an extraordinary week for Biden, as the president set aside his schedule for a whirlwind trip to a war zone to personally appear alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This trip will likely go down as a defining moment of his presidency, even if the outcome is far from certain as the Middle East remains plunged into violent unrest.
The immediate political question for Biden is whether he can successfully pair a terrorist attack in the Middle East with a ground war in Eastern Europe, while maintaining public support for both efforts. Republicans are increasingly hesitant to send more aid to Ukraine, even as they enthusiastically support aid to Israel.
During his trip to Tel Aviv, the president announced an agreement with Israeli officials to allow humanitarian aid to reach the more than 2 million Gazans lacking basic resources due to the Israeli siege, although some parties of this agreement remained uncertain on Thursday. He also pledged to significantly increase U.S. military aid to Israel.
“For decades, we have guaranteed Israel a qualitative military advantage,” Biden said in Israel. “Later this week, I will ask the U.S. Congress for an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense.”
White House officials are considering a plan that could cost as much as $100 billion, although that figure remains in flux, according to people briefed on the matter. Such a package could also include elements beyond Israel and Ukraine, such as more money to secure the U.S. border.
Aid to Israel would be aimed at strengthening the country’s Iron Dome air defense system, Biden said. The United States has already positioned two aircraft carriers and their escort ships near Israel and sent thousands of soldiers and marines to crew them, partly motivated by fears that the conflict could turn into a regional war wider.
British PM pledges support for Israel, calls for aid to Gaza
In announcing his speech Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would “address the nation to discuss our response to the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel and the ongoing brutal war of Russia against Ukraine. But any attempt to link the two conflicts is likely to face immediate challenges.
Biden will have to overcome resistance from a significant number of House Republicans who are pushing to cut aid to Ukraine — in some cases, to nothing. America has little stake in a distant war between two distant countries, they argue, and the money would be better spent on uses such as securing America’s southern border.
These lawmakers, many of whom are among the chamber’s most conservative, have exerted increased influence in recent months while removing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker and seeking to install a more supportive leader. to their program.
Any request to Congress will now be met with a House in disarray as Republicans struggle to unite behind a new president. GOP leaders are considering a proposal to expand the powers of Acting Speaker Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) so the chamber can return to office. But it’s unclear whether that proposal has majority support, and for now, the House doesn’t have a mechanism to pass legislation.
Public support for Ukraine is also declining. According to a Washington Post ABC poll from last month, 41 percent of Americans believe the United States is doing too much to support Ukraine, while 50 percent believe it is doing enough or not enough.
However, among Republicans, 59% believe the United States is doing too much to help kyiv.
Support for Israel received greater bipartisan support. But some liberal Democratic members of Congress called for a ceasefire without publicly supporting Israel, prompting Jean-Pierre to criticize their statements as “shameful.”
Biden’s call comes against the backdrop of an ongoing war between Israel and Gaza, as Israel imposes a strict blockade of Gaza and prepares its forces for a ground incursion. Israeli airstrikes continued Thursday, including in southern safe areas such as Khan Younis, where Israeli leaders urged Palestinians to surrender before the invasion.
At least 1,400 people have been killed and more than 4,500 injured in Israel since Hamas’ unprecedented cross-border attack on October 7, Israeli authorities said. Palestinian officials said 3,785 people were killed and more than 12,400 injured in Gaza.
Biden is not the only world leader seeking to balance his support for Israel with efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and prevent a wider spread of war.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia this week. “We will work together to ensure regional stability and prevent dangerous escalation,” Sunak said Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The White House says it would be harder for members of Congress to vote against a single aid package for the two countries, particularly for Republicans whose skepticism about funding Ukraine could be overcome by their desire urgent to send aid to Israel.
This link is also a way for Biden to make a radical argument that the United States has a duty to stand with democracies around the world, wherever they are, as opposed to the “one-stop shop” approach. America First” from his main Republican challenger, former President Donald. Asset.
Biden has made the case for a brotherhood of democracies in recent days by urging Israel to minimize civilian casualties in its response to Hamas killings.
“What sets us apart from terrorists is that we believe in the fundamental dignity of every human life – Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, Christian – of everyone,” Biden said during his brief trip to Israel. “You can’t give up what makes you who you are. If you abandon that, then the terrorists will win. And we can never let them win.