Biden makes the case for wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine in primetime address

Oct 19, 2023, 6:43 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2023, 5:38 pm

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas after meeting Israeli Prim...

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the war between Israel and Hamas after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Wednesday, October 18, in Tel Aviv. (Evan Vucci/AP)

(Evan Vucci/AP)

(CNN) — President Joe Biden tied the wars in Ukraine and Israel together, making the case that the United States must support fellow democracies facing existential threats from autocratic enemies.

“Hamas and 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 added.”

He laid out the stakes for the American people, 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,” he said. “To put all that at risk – we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel – it’s just not worth it.”

The primetime address took place on the eve of the White House requesting north of $100 billion from Congress to deliver aid and resources to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the US border with Mexico. B said he would be submitting an “urgent budget request” for supplemental funding for Israel and Ukraine, among other national security priorities.

“That’s why tomorrow 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,” Biden said.

While the White House believes there remains broad bipartisan support in Congress for the package, as three administration officials told CNN, the legislative branch is paralyzed by the dysfunction in the House of Representatives. Real questions remain about the path for such a package in Congress with a leadership vacuum in the House of Representatives and consternation about federal spending levels that have cast into question the government’s ability to fund itself beyond mid-November.

The Biden administration in August delivered its last so-called supplemental funding request, which encapsulates unique requests beyond traditional government programs. The proposal requested $24.1 billion to aid Ukraine through the end of the year, but Congress failed to approve it during a process to greenlight short-term federal funding.

Public opinion regarding US assistance has been mixed.

In a recent CNN poll, nearly all respondents were sympathetic with the Israeli people in the wake of surprise attacks launched by Hamas, but there was no clear consensus on the right level of US involvement. One-third (35%) said the US is providing the right amount of assistance – and another 36% were unsure whether the level of US assistance is appropriate. The US has long provided security assistance to Israel, which receives roughly $4 billion annually under a 10-year memorandum of understanding. The new request would provide billions more.

By contrast, support to sustain aid to Ukraine has waned significantly since Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February 2022. An August CNN poll found 55% of respondents said Congress should not pass more funding to aid Ukraine. The partisan divide has been deepening, too: Nearly three-quarters of Republicans opposed more funding for Ukraine, while 62% of Democrats supported it.

Since Russia’s invasion, the White House and Congress have provided more than $75 billion in funding to Kyiv, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledged to European leaders on Monday that the US would be able to secure support for additional aid and, in an interview with Sky News, said Washington could afford financing two war efforts at once.

“American can certainly afford to stand with Israel and to support Israel’s military needs, and we also can and must support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.”

The speech comes on the heels of his wartime visit to the Middle East, which went on even after a blast tore through a hospital in Gaza. While his planned stop in Amman, Jordan, to meet Arab leaders was canceled just as the president was preparing to depart the White House, Biden did spend hours on the ground in Tel Aviv.

Officials on Wednesday sought to downplay the cancellation, saying it was natural for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to return to the West Bank to mourn the dead. Later, Biden scoffed at the suggestion he was disappointed the meeting had been canceled.

“Disappointed? Look, I came to get something done. I got it done,” he said. “Not many people thought we could get this done, and not many people want to be associated with failure.”

For Biden, a trip in the formative days of a potentially drawn-out conflict amounted to the ultimate test of his confidence – built over decades – that getting in the same room can influence people and events.

The US, Egypt and Israel have all signaled readiness for aid to begin moving into Gaza, following Biden’s high-profile visit. However, the Rafah crossing from Egypt to Gaza is not expected to open Friday for a convoy of humanitarian aid to get into Gaza, multiple sources told CNN, despite expectations voiced by Biden and others that it would be open.

“I would not put money on those trucks going through tomorrow,” one source familiar with the discussions told CNN.

in a meeting that stretched well past what officials had expected, Biden sought to use his decades-long relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – one that has endured significant strain over the past year – to offer advice and seek commitments on the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Beforehand, officials said Biden would approach the Israeli leader with “tough questions” about the path forward and Israel’s intentions as it seeks to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Speaking later, Biden offered a glimpse of how those conversations went, or at least his side of them.

“I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it,” Biden told his audience, a collection of Israelis and Americans.

“I know the choices are never clear or easy for the leadership,” Biden went on, recalling mistakes the United States made after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “There’s always cost, but it requires being deliberate, requires asking very hard questions. That requires clarity about the objectives and an honest assessment about whether the path you’re on will achieve those objectives.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Israel + Hamas

Thirteen-year-old Ayham Musalm, center, is receiving treatment for a fractured leg and glass shrapn...

Aditi Sangal, CNN

Injured youth from Gaza find care in the US, face uncertain future

At least 1,000 children in Gaza have had one or both legs amputated, UNICEF reported in December. That number has since grown.

7 days ago

President Joe Biden speaks with CNN’s Erin Burnett during an exclusive interview Wednesday, May 8...

Jack Forrest, Andrew Millman and Avery Lotz, CNN

Biden faces bipartisan backlash over Israel ultimatum

Biden is facing backlash from lawmakers over his Israel ultimatum that would result in a shut-off of some US weapons.

8 days ago

President Joe Biden arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport to attend a political fundraise...


Biden says US won’t supply weapons for Israel to attack Rafah

Biden said the U.S. was still committed to Israel's defense, but that if Israel goes into Rafah, "we're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used."

12 days ago

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike east of Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 6, 2024. (AP Phot...


US pauses bomb shipment to Israel over Rafah invasion concern

The Biden administration paused a bomb shipmant to Israel over concerns that the country might launch full-scale assault on the city of Rafah.

12 days ago

The protests grew after an encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York City led to ...

Alex Leeds Matthews, Krystina Shveda, Amy O'Kruk and Renée Rigdon, CNN

Map: Where university protesters have been arrested

As pro-Palestinian protests have erupted on college campuses nationwide, protesters continue to be arrested.

14 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American ...

Michael Schwartz, Tim Lister and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Israel closes Al Jazeera news network in the country

Israel has ordered the closure of Al Jazeera in the country, a move the Qatar-based news network called a “criminal act.”

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Biden makes the case for wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine in primetime address