Biden: 'Conflict and chaos' could spread without money for Israel, Ukraine

President Joe Biden said Thursday evening he is sending an “urgent
budget request” to Congress to continue providing military aid to Israel
and Ukraine.

In a prime time address
from the White House, Biden made his case for Congress to fund his
request, saying if the United States doesn’t stand up for its values,
bad actors could be empowered worldwide.

“Conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world,” he said. “It’s just not worth it.”

Media
reports indicate the White House will request more than $100 billion
for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and for the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s unclear
how the request will even move through Congress as House Republicans
continue to struggle picking a speaker.

State
Department spokesperson Matt Miller on Thursday didn’t say how
difficult a vacant speakership will make securing funding for foreign
policy initiatives.

“There is a time when we’re going to need to
go to Congress and it would be nice to have a functioning partner at
that time,” he said.

Biden said the world is at an “inflection
point in history” because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the
escalating violence in Israel, which has rocketed to the forefront of
the White House’s priorities. 

Long-running conflict between Israel and Palestine recently escalated after Hamas militants entered Israel on Oct. 7 for the first time in decades.

Since
Israel started its retaliation for the attacks, the Gaza Health
Ministry said 3,785 people have been killed in Gaza, the majority women,
children and older adults. Nearly 12,500 were injured, and another
1,300 people were believed buried under the rubble, health authorities said.

More
than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain
during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Roughly 200 others were abducted. 

The U.S. government has overwhelmingly come out in support of Israel and its response to the attacks, even vetoing Wednesday a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Hamas’ attack and calling for a ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid.

“We
thought it was very unfortunate that that resolution did not recognize
Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of these terrorist attacks.
We think that is an important principle,” Miller said Thursday. “Israel
just suffered a massive terrorist attack — something that is 10 to 15
times the impact of 9/11 when you look at it on a per capita basis. …
Any country would defend itself in those situations.”

There were 2,977 people
killed in the 9/11 attacks, which is a smaller per capita impact on the
U.S.’s population of 285 million at the time compared to the Oct. 7
attack’s percentage of Israel’s 9 million people.

Biden traveled
to Israel this week and top diplomats spent more than a week in the
region conveying U.S. support for Israel, trying to facilitate
humanitarian aid and to keep the conflict from spreading.

The
president urged Israel to move forward with caution and not to repeat
the mistakes the United States made in the aftermath of 9/11.

“We cannot give up on peace,” he said. “We cannot give up on a two-state solution.”

So far, at least 32 American citizens have been killed in the violence and 11 remain missing.

Hamas
has been the de facto governing body of Gaza since 2007. The faction,
which views the state of Israel as illegitimate, has long held that the
current government in Jerusalem must be deposed by force.

Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization, has for years held a blockade against Gaza
and its Palestinian population, a move detractors have called a
violation of human rights. For nearly 60 years, the country has also
occupied a Palestinian territory in the region’s western reaches known
as the West Bank.

The U.S. on Wednesday announced it would provide
$100 million in humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. But
getting aid into the region has been hampered by Israel’s objections. 

Egypt
agreed Thursday to allow humanitarian aid through its connection to
Gaza, but Miller said Israel’s stance is that any assistance provided to
Gaza will be diverted to support Hamas. Despite the U.S. desire “to see
sustained humanitarian assistance going into Gaza,” Miller said it’s a
legitimate concern.

“We think it’s important,” he said, “that the
innocent civilians in Gaza who did not start this conflict have access
to food and water and medicine.”