A day after visiting Israel amid the ongoing war against Hamas, US President Joe Biden on Thursday delivered a rare speech to the nation from the Oval Office, calling for Congress to boost military aid to the Jewish state and Ukraine while linking the Gaza-ruling terror group’s deadly assault on October 7 to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” Biden said at the start of his address, while pledging unwavering support for Israel’s security, “today and always.”
Recapping his trip to Israel, Biden highlighted his meetings with Israeli leaders and with the families of those held hostage in Gaza, saying “there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage” in the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists.
“The Jewish people know perhaps better than anyone, that there’s no limit to the depravity of people who want to inflict pain on others in Israel,” Biden lamented.
Biden says he also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reiterating that the “US remains committed to the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and to self determination.”
“The actions of Hamas don’t take that right away,” he asserted.
“I’m heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at the hospital in Gaza, which was not done by the Israelis,” he said, reiterating that the IDF was not responsible despite Hamas claims to the contrary.
The war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what Biden has previously highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”
Israel says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
In Thursday’s speech, Biden compared the Gaza conflict to the one in Ukraine, saying, “Hamas and Putin represent different threads. But they share this in common: They both want a neighboring democracy completely annihilated.”
He also noted in his speech that “Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region.
“We will continue to hold them accountable,” he claimed.
“The United States and our partners across the region are working to build a better future for the Middle East — one where the Middle East is more stable and better connected to its neighbors through innovative projects like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor,” he added.
Biden said that on Friday, he would submit an urgent request for Congress to “fund America’s national security needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine.”
“It is a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,” he asserted.
“It will help us keep American troops out of harm’s way,” Biden explained.
“We do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia or fighting against Russia,” he added separately, notably not ruling out the possibility of US troops getting involved in Israel’s war against Hamas.
Two officials familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that the Biden officials have indicated to Israel in recent days that if Hezbollah initiates a war against Israel, the US military will join the IDF in fighting the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group. Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terrorists have launched a number of deadly attacks along the border in recent days, drawing retaliatory Israeli strikes and raising concerns of a possible second front as Israel prepares for a likely ground invasion in Gaza.
Addressing the proposed aid package, Biden said the military assistance for Israel and Ukraine will “help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, more prosperous for our children and grandchildren,”
“American alliances are what keep us Americans safe. American values are what make us a partner nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine or if we turn our backs on Israel — it’s just not worth it,” Biden said.
“In Israel, we’re going to make sure that they have what they need to protect their people today and always,” he continued, “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 [upholding].”
“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,” he added.
Biden said that during his talks Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two discussed “the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can.”
He also reiterated his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a peace agreement with Israel
“We cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution,” Biden said toward the end of his address. “Israel and the Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace.”
He then turned to concerns of bigotry and violence in America inspired by the fighting in Gaza.
“Here at home, we have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has given too much oxygen, fueling racism, the rise of antisemitism, and Islamophobia right here in America,” he said.
“Today, Jewish families are worried about being targeted in school or wearing symbols of their faith while walking down the street or going out about their daily lives,” Biden lamented.
He also recalled this week’s tragic murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American in a suspected hate crime targeting him and his mother because of their faith.
Source : Times of Israel