– Israeli and Ukrainian victories on the battlefield are essential to protect America’s national security, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday, one day after he asked Congress to approve a $106 billion military aid package for Jerusalem and Kyiv.
“I know these conflicts can seem far away. It’s natural to ask: Why does this matter to America?” Biden said in a message he posted on X.
“Israel and Ukraine’s success is vital to our national security. History has taught us that when terrorists and dictators don’t pay a price, they cause more death and destruction,” Biden wrote.
He spoke out two days after he delivered a special address from the Oval Office in which he emphasized the similarity between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with Hamas’s assault on southern Israel, explaining that the conflicts were a crossroad moment that could not be ignored.
“We’re facing an inflection point in history – one of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come,” he explained.
Biden spoke after returning from a solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday, in which he promised that America had Israel’s back in its war to oust Hamas from Gaza.
He was the first US president to visit Israel during a war, a step he took for Ukraine as well when he flew into Poland and took a train into Kyiv in February.
It’s important for the United States to stand by its democratic allies, Biden stressed.
“American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with.
“To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, if we turn our backs on Israel – it’s just not worth it,” he stated.
“The security package I’m sending to Congress… is an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge, which we’ve committed to – the qualitative military edge,” Biden said.
The $106 billion request included $61 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.
“We’re going to make sure Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel. We’re going to make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading,” Biden said.
The Gaza war, which the IDF has dubbed Operation Swords of Iron, began on October 7, when Hamas infiltrated Israel’s southern border, killing more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers, and taking over 210 people hostage. Some 32 Americans are among the dead and another 10 are missing, with some presumed to be captive in Gaza. Hamas has forcibly controlled the Gaza Strip since it ousted Fatah in a bloody coup in 2007.
“The [Hamas] assault on Israel echoes nearly 20 months of war, tragedy, and brutality inflicted on the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.
“We have not forgotten the mass graves [in Ukraine], the bodies found bearing signs of torture, rape used as a weapon by the Russians, and thousands and thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken into Russia, stolen from their parents. It’s sick,” he said.
Ukraine has enjoyed broad international support since the start of the war in February 2022, but with respect to Israel, global public support has been divided. Many have backed the Palestinians and called for an end to Israeli aerial strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in which close to 4,500 people have been killed either from IDF aerial strikes or failed Palestinian rocket launches.
Biden, however, has firmly stood with Israel.
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy – completely annihilate it,” Biden explained.
Hamas’s “stated purpose for existing is the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people,” Biden stressed.
The United States, he said, can not afford to walk away, particularly given that Iran backs both Hamas and Russia.
In his speech, Biden repeated many of the messages he already delivered during his Israel trip. He noted that he met with family members of the hostages, stressing that the US was doing everything possible to secure their release.
“As I told the families of Americans being held captive by Hamas, we’re pursuing every avenue to bring their loved ones home. As president, there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage,” Biden said.
Biden distinguishes Hamas from Palestinian people
He also expressed his support for the Palestinian people, which he said should not be confused with Hamas.
“The United States remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and to self-determination. The actions of Hamas terrorists don’t take that right away,” Biden said. He added that he continued to support a two-state resolution to the conflict.
Biden also stressed the importance of ensuring that humanitarian aid could reach Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing and that civilians were protected from IDF bombings in the Gaza Strip. He also deplored the loss of life incurred during an explosion at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City last Tuesday.
Hamas has blamed an IDF aerial strike for the bombing, claiming that close to 500 people were killed, while Israel has presented evidence that the hospital was hit by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch.
US Department of Defense evidence has also pointed to the PIJ as a likely cause of the explosion. An unclassified US intelligence report seen by Reuters on Thursday estimated the death toll at 100-300 people.
“Like so many others, I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at a hospital in Gaza – which was not done by the Israelis,” Biden said in his Thursday night address.
“We mourn every innocent life lost. We can’t ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity,” Biden stated.
He explains that he has spoken with Egypt and Israel to ensure humanitarian aid can enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing. “I secured an agreement for the first shipment of humanitarian assistance from the United Nations to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
“If Hamas does not divert or steal this shipment – these shipments, we’re going to provide an opening for sustained delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians,” Biden said.
In his speech, he also addressed the rising attacks against Jews and Muslims in the US.
“Here at home, we have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling racism, a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia right here in America,” Biden said.