President Joe Biden addressed the American people Thursday night from the Oval Office, tying together the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, arguing ‘we cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win.’
Arguing that ‘chaos will spread,’ the president pleaded with Congress to pass what’s expected to be $100 billion in new funding, which is already being met with resistance by Congressional Republicans, wary of giving any new money to Ukraine.
But seated at the Resolute Desk, Biden argued in his 15-minute address that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the terror group Hamas, responsible for the bloody October 7 attack on Israel ‘represent different threats’ but share a common goal.
‘They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy,’ he said.
Biden warned that if bad actors like Putin are left unchecked ‘would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened to try the same.’
‘The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world, in the Indo-Pacific, in the Middle East, especially in the Middle East.’
He then noted another common thread between Ukraine and Israel: Iran.
‘Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region,’ Biden said. ‘And we will continue to hold them accountable, I might add.’
President Joe Biden addressed the American people from the Oval Office Thursday, tying the conflicts in Israel and Ukraine together
He continued, ‘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,’ he said. ‘To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel – it’s just not worth it.’
The president laid out that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘appetite for power and control’ means he won’t ‘limit himself to Ukraine,’ which could spill into a conflict where NATO countries are involved.
If that happens, Biden warned, ‘we’ll have something that we do not seek.’
‘We do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia, or fighting against Russia,’ he said.
The president made other pledges too – telling family members of the hostages abducted by Hamas in Israel during the October 7 terror attack that ‘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,’ he said.
People are seen at the scene of destruction after an Israeli attack on the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City. In Biden’s Oval Office address, he said he pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ‘operate by the laws of war’
‘The terrorist of Hamas unleashed pure unadulterated evil in the world that sadly the Jewish people know perhaps better than anyone that there is no limit to the depravity of people when they want to inflict pain on others,’ he noted.
Biden also pushed for foreign aid to get into Gaza where Palestinian civilians are suffering while the Hamas terrorist group fires rockets at Israel.
Biden said that during his sit-down Wednesday in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he discussed ‘the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war.’
‘That means protecting civilians in combat as best they can,’ Biden said.
‘The people of Gaza urgently need food, water and medicine,’ he observed.
Biden also asked that the Israeli government not be ‘blinded by rage.’
The president said after discussions with Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi he ‘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 life-saving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians,’ Biden said.
He then added, ‘we cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution.’
While his in-person meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was cancelled in the aftermath of the hospital explosion in Gaza, Biden spoke to the leader by phone on board Air Force One after spending seven hours on the ground in Israel Wednesday.
Biden said that he ‘reiterated that the United States remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and to self-determination.’
‘The actions Hamas did don’t take that right away,’ Biden said.
The president said he was ‘heartbroken’ by the ‘tragic loss of Palestinian life’ in Gaza, including at the hospital – adding, ‘which was not done by the Israelis,’ doubling down on statements he made Wednesday, assigning blame to an errant rocket launched by another Hamas-like terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Hamas blamed Israel after the hospital explosion killed hundreds.
Neither side’s claim has been independently verified.
The president also spent some time speaking about the uptick in hate crimes happening at home.
‘In recent years too much hate has been given too much oxygen, including racism, the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, right here in America,’ Biden observed.
Biden noted how the October 7 terror attacks in Israel have ‘triggered deep scars and terrible memories’ in the Jewish community, while those in Muslim-American community are thinking ‘here we go again,’ linking this moment to the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks.
‘A little boy, here in the United States, a little boy, who just turned six years old was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea, Wadea, a proud American, a proud Palestinan-American family,’ he said.
After the president’s speech Thursday night, Biden spoke to the father and uncle of Wadea Alfayoumi, expressing his condolences. Alfayoumi’s mother Hannan Shahin was injured in the attack and the president wished her a full recovery, the White House said.
Biden’s funding request – reportedly $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, along with $10 billion for humanitarian aid, $14 billion for border security and $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific, according to Reuters – comes at a moment when half of Congress is in chaos.
Eight Republicans and the entire Democratic caucus voted to remove McCarthy, with the MAGA-aligned Rep. Jim Jordan and McCarthy’s second-in-command, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, seen as the most viable candidates to take the gavel.
But efforts to get Scalise and then Jordan elected to the speakership have failed.
Scalise, after winning the first internal GOP caucus race, lost a House floor vote and opted to bow out.
Despite losing House floor votes on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jordan told reporters Thursday afternoon he planned to march on.
A move to further empower acting Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry has currently fizzled.
But Biden will have problems with the Senate too.
On Thursday Republican Sen. Roger Marshall wrote a letter, which was signed by seven additional GOP Senate colleagues, demanding that Israel and Ukraine aid be debated separately.
The eight senators said that Biden is ‘risking a government shutdown’ by tying the aid packages together.
‘My colleagues and I firmly believe that any aid to Israel should not be used as leverage to send tens of billions more dollars to Ukraine. These are two separate conflicts at different stages and cannot be considered as a “package deal,”‘ wrote Marshall.
Biden argued that the aid dollars would give a boost to American workers.
‘When we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores, our own stockpiles, with new equipment, equipment that defends America and is made in America,’ the president said.
‘Patriot missiles for air defense batteries made in Arizona. Artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas. And so much more,’ he continued. ‘You know, just as in World War II, today patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.’
As he wrapped up his speech, Biden urged Congress to get it done.
‘But time is of the essence. I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. We can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibility as a great nation,’ he said. ‘We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win.’
‘I refuse to let that happen,’ he said.