Biden says US not withdrawing from Israel and Ukraine support

White House to send urgent budget proposal to Congress for both countries

US President Joe Biden condemned a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism after the October 7 Hamas attack and the Israeli military's response. AP
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US President Joe Biden has said Hamas and Russia's Vladimir Putin both want to “annihilate” a neighbouring democracy and “it's just not worth it” for the US to walk away from supporting Israel and Ukraine.

In a rare speech from the Oval Office late on Thursday, Mr Biden sought to draw parallels between the two conflicts, saying the world was at a dangerous turning point.

Mr Biden called on the US Congress to provide emergency funding for Israel and Ukraine and other areas.

He is expected to ask for $105bn, with reports saying this would include $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region – including Taiwan – $14 billion for US border security and $10 billion for humanitarian efforts.

Mr Biden also condemned a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism after the October 7 Hamas attack against Israel and the Israeli military's response.

“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to annihilate a neighbouring democracy,” Mr Biden said.

“We’re facing an inflection point in history – one of those moments where the decisions we make today will impact us for decades to come.”

The House of Representatives remains without a speaker after a Republican mutiny against Kevin McCarthy, further complicating the speed at which the US can send more money to Ukraine and support Israel's war effort against Hamas.

Even if Republicans elect a new House speaker, far-right members have suggested cutting military aid for Ukraine.

“If we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it,” Mr Biden said.

“That's why tomorrow I'm going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America's national security needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine.

“It's a smart investment and is going to pay dividends for American security for generations.”

Mr Biden returned from a trip to Israel on Wednesday, where he expressed his administration's support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his country's response to a deadly Hamas attack that resulted in the death of about 1,400 people in Israel.

“The assault on Israel echoes nearly 20 months of war, tragedy, brutality inflicted on the people of Ukraine,” he said.

The Israeli military's retaliatory strikes on Gaza have killed at least 3,700 people, according to local officials in the Palestinian enclave.

Most US voters approve the government's support of Israel, a Quinnipiac poll found this week, although there is lower support among younger people, who are more sceptical of Israel's use of the military aid.

A US State Department official also publicly resigned over what he called “destructive, unjust” US military aid to Israel.

However, Arab countries are frustrated with Mr Biden's steadfast report for the Israeli military even as the civilian death toll mounts.

Arab leaders cancelled a planned summit with Mr Biden that would have taken place during his trip to the region, and protests took place at some US embassies globally.

“I caution the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage,” Mr Biden said.

A recent Gallup World Poll found most Palestinians do not believe Mr Biden can negotiate a peace treaty.

Protests by young Americans supportive of Palestinians and Jewish people wishing for peace have spread across the US, calling for a ceasefire.

“The United States remains committed to the Palestinian people's right to dignity and to self-determination. The actions of mass terrorists don't take that right away.” Mr Biden said.

Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war, attacks against Jewish and Arab people in the US have increased.

“We must without equivocation, denounce anti-Semitism,” Mr Biden said. “We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.”

The Biden administration also wants to continue backing Ukraine's defence against Russia, which invaded in February 2022 and has been accused of making civilians targets and committing war crimes.

Mr Biden called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before his address.

“President Biden underscored the continued strong bipartisan support in the United States for Ukraine’s defence of its sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future,” the White House said.

A recent Congressional short-term budget deal did not include Ukrainian funds, alarming some allies.

“Military support for Ukraine would have a week left to live. We're not withdrawing,” Mr Biden said.

Most US voters also agree with supporting Ukraine, a Quinnipiac poll found, although it may differ among political party lines as Republicans hope to decrease such aid.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 7:17 AM