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In rare Oval Office address, Biden urges support for Israel, Ukraine

By Jonna Lorenz & Darryl Coote
President Joe Biden delivers a prime-time address to the nation Thursday even from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/UPI
1 of 7 | President Joe Biden delivers a prime-time address to the nation Thursday even from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- In a rare Oval Office address, President Joe Biden pleaded with Americans on Thursday night to continue their support for Ukraine and Israel, arguing that what's at stake is not only the sovereignties of the ally nations but American values and U.S. security.

From the White House, Biden said that Friday he would send to Congress an urgent budget request that called on lawmakers to act on, not only to help Israel and Ukraine defend themselves but to defend the United States and its interesting.

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"We're facing an inflection point in history, one of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come," he said.

"American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, if we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it."

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Biden gave the address a day after returning from Israel, which has been waging a nearly two-week-old war against Hamas in Gaza, and as support for continuing to arm Ukraine in its 20-month fight against Russia has waned not only in the United States but in Europe.

In laying out his case for U.S. support for the two nations at war, Biden said Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza and Russia's Vladimir Putin in Ukraine are "different threats" but share a commonality of both wanting to "completely annihilate" their neighbors.

"History has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction," Biden said. "They keep going. And the cost and the threats to America and the world keep rising."

He added that the threat not only lies in the immediate actors but in adversaries watching from the wings of the war theaters. To walk away from Ukraine, he said, would embolden other would-be aggressions.

"The risk of conflict and chaos could spread across the world," Biden explained.

Biden is expected to ask Congress for billion of dollars to support Israel and Ukraine, but the request comes at a precarious time. The House is without a leader and where more funds from Kyiv have been a sticking point for some lawmakers of both parties.

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In the comparatively more moderate Senate, on the other hand, support seems more likely backed. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged lawmakers from the floor earlier Thursday to continue its support of the U.S. allies, echoing sentiments that Biden hit in his speech, including that support for those fighting tyranny is support for American interests.

"The prosperity America has known for the better part of a century is the product of our leadership. Preserving it means standing with our friends and investing in our own strength," he said.

Biden on Wednesday returned from a trip to Tel Aviv, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he pressed to allow aid to reach Palestinian civilians affected by Israeli strikes in Gaza. He said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi agreed to open the Rafah border crossing to allow 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian enclave.

The conflict began Oct. 7 when Hamas breached security barriers and carried out a surprise attack on Israel. Israel launched airstrikes in response. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel and 3,400 people have been killed in Gaza.

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Underscoring the importance of Ukraine in Biden's speech, the White House said late Thursday that the president spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of the televised address.

In the call, Biden stressed continued U.S. support for Ukraine as it battles against invading Russian forces, according to a statement released from the White House late Thursday.

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