In an address to the nation from the Oval Office on Thursday, the President, who became the first world leader to visit Israel this week as the Hamas continues its war against the Jewish nation, cast “this moment in history as an inflection point” — a battle between the world’s democracies and autocracies, CNN reported.
While arguing that “this is one of those moments”, he made a direct appeal to the American people on the eve of the White House requesting some $100 billion from Congress to deliver aid and resources to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the US border with Mexico, even though the legislative branch is paralysed by the dysfunction in the House of Representatives which remains without a Speaker for a second week.
“Hamas and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it,” Biden said.
“We can’t let petty partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”
He laid out the stakes for the people in the US, calling the wars a national security imperative and a critical moment for the future of American leadership and democracies worldwide.
“American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us in America safe. American values are what make us a partner nation you want to work with.
“To put all that at risk – we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel – it’s just not worth it,” CNN quoted the President as saying.
He went on to say that support for both wars is “vital for America’s national security”.
“History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going. And the cost and the threat to America in the world keep rising.
“If we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won’t limit himself just to Ukraine. If we walk away and let Putin erase Ukraine’s independence, 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 added
Biden informed that he would be submitting an “urgent budget request” for supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine, among other national security priorities.
“That’s why tomorrow (Friday), I’m going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America’s national security needs – needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine. It’s a smart investment that’s gonna pay dividends for American security for generations,” CNN quoted the President as saying
He however, reiterated that his administration will not “send American troops to fight in Ukraine”.
“All Ukraine is asking for is help. For the weapons, munitions, the capacity, the capability of pushing invading Russian forces off their land and the air defence system to shoot down Russian missiles before they destroy Ukrainian cities.”
Regarding his high-profile visit to Israel on Wednesday, which came a day after the deadly hospital blast in Gaza, Biden said: “The terrorist group Hamas unleashed pure, unadulterated evil in the world. But 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.
“In Israel, I saw people who are strong, determined, resilient and also angry, in shock and in deep, deep pain.”
While reiterating his support for Americans being held hostage by Hamas, the President said that he “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.”
While highlighting an agreement to secure “sustained delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians, from the UN to Palestinian civilians in Gaza”, he however warned against Hamas”diverting or stealing the shipments”.
In his address, Biden sought to draw a clear distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people and argued for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and innocent Palestinian families are suffering greatly because of them.”
The US “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”, CNN reported.
While acknowledging the fear of Jewish families “worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their faith walking down the street, or going out about their daily life”, he also empathised with Muslim Americans who are “outraged… saying to yourself, ‘Here we go again, with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11’.”
“We can’t stand by and stand silent where this happens. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must, also without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.”