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Biden Urges Unity Behind Aid to U.S. Allies

The president said it was imperative that the U.S. take the lead during the separate crises related by the common theme of defending democracy and the dignity of people.

As the United States resolves its own political divisions and a leadership crisis on Capitol Hill, President Joe Biden made the case Thursday night to stick by U.S. allies Ukraine and Israel, casting the distant conflicts as a test of the power of terrorists and authoritarians that could ultimately threaten democracy at large.

“I know these conflicts can seem far away,” the president said, referring to Ukraine’s battle against Russian aggression and Israel’s response to a horrific attack by the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas.

“It’s natural to ask, ‘Why does this matter to America?’ When terrorists don’t pay a price for the terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going,” Biden said.

“If we walk away” in Ukraine, now in its 20th month of trying to push back Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion, “aggressors around the world would be emboldened to do the same … especially in the Middle East,” Biden said.

He said he would ask Congress on Friday for a combined security funding package – described at being around $100 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the U.S.-Mexico border – to help Ukraine and Israel defend themselves.

But the president was careful to mention the plight of the Palestinian people as well, underscoring that the matter is separate from Hamas and its behavior.

Even as Americans have expressed horror at the Hamas sea, air and ground assault on Israelis – which has led to the deaths of 32 Americans and the hostage-taking of others – some have also worried that the suffering of Palestinians has been ignored.

In a Wednesday visit to Israel – the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited the country during a time of war – Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid, warning that the medicine and food would be stopped if Hamas stole or diverted the assistance.

The two conflicts are vastly different: Ukraine, a sovereign nation, is battling to keep Putin from effectively annexing it. Biden warned that Putin would not stop there, perhaps moving to Poland or another NATO nation and escalating the conflict. NATO’s charter says that if one member nation is attacked, all of NATO will come to that member’s aid.

“What would happen if we walked away?” Biden asked Thursday night. “We are the essential nation.”

In Israel, the conflict is inside the country, where Palestinians live in the West Bank and in densely populated Gaza. Hamas has infiltrated inside Gaza and has used Palestinians and fellow Muslims as human shields.

Biden reiterated that he urged Israel to live by the “rules of war,” not letting its outrage over attack to overreact and imperil even more Palestinian lives.

On Capitol Hill as well, the two situations are viewed very differently. There is strong support for Israel and for assistance to help the nation defend not only its citizens but its very existence. But support for aiding Ukraine has weakened over the months, with Republicans grousing that the money would be better spent defending America’s southern border.

All of that may be moot for the time being, since House Republicans have been unable to agree on a speaker to lead the chamber. The House cannot vote on legislation without a speaker.

Biden called for unity in the United States, including an intolerance for both antisemitism and Islamophobia in the wake of the Hamas attack. But he said it was imperative that the United States take the lead during the separate crises he said were related by the common theme of defending democracy and the dignity of people.

“Hamas and Putin represent different threats,” Biden says. “But they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy.”

Source: U.S.News