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Biden tries to make case for Israel and Ukraine funding

With Hill support uncertain, Biden mentions states where munitions are made

President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the Oval Office on Thursday.
President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the Oval Office on Thursday. (Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden used his second Oval Office address to connect the importance of defending Israel and Ukraine to America’s security — and its defense industrial base.

“Let me be clear about something. We send Ukrainian equipment sitting in our stockpiles, and when we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores, our own stockpiles with new equipment, equipment that defends America and is made in America,” Biden said Thursday night. “Patriot missiles for air defense batteries, made in Arizona. Artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country: in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and so much more.”

The speech, which took advantage of the bully pulpit afforded to the president when he uses the Oval Office in prime time, previewed the emergency supplemental request for security assistance that he plans to send to Congress on Friday, which is expected to come with a price tag upwards of $100 billion.

“Just as in World War II, today patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom,” he said, a line that might have reminded viewers of Rosie the Riveter.

The president said the funding would include an “unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge,” in part by reinforcing the Iron Dome system that works to protect Israel’s skies from inbound rockets.

Biden also made a case for humanitarian help for Palestinian people, trying to separate their needs from Hamas terrorists, while also denouncing both antisemitism and Islamophobia in the United States.

He also reiterated his message from Wednesday that he continues to believe the United States “cannot give up on a two-state solution” for both Israel and Palestine, and he said he was cautioning Israel “not to be blinded by rage” in the response, which is expected to include a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The president argued that the fights in Israel and Ukraine are rightly viewed in the same context and should not be divided as some, including former President Donald Trump, would argue.

“Hamas and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to complete annihilate a neighboring democracy,” Biden said.

“The American People MUST be allowed to support Israel without being forced to fund the invasion of millions of illegal aliens into the United States and without starting World War III in Ukraine,” the Trump campaign said in a statement ahead of the president’s remarks, also referencing border security-related funding that is expected to be included in Friday’s request.

Biden’s address, which followed his Wednesday trip to Tel Aviv and back, came against the contrast with dysfunction on Capitol Hill, with House Republicans not even holding a floor vote Thursday in their ongoing attempt to fill the vacancy in the office of the speaker.

“I know we have our divisions at home,” said Biden. “We have to get past them. We can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibility as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”

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