Says Israel must be able to defend against Iran, its terrorists

Biden signs aid package with $17B for Israel, $1B extra humanitarian aid for Gazans

This means ‘Iran can never carry out the destruction it intended 10 days ago,’ says president; vows to ‘surge’ aid ‘to the innocent people of Gaza’; $95B bill helps Ukraine, Taiwan

President Joe Biden speaks before signing a $95 billion aid package that includes support for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and other allies, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden speaks before signing a $95 billion aid package that includes support for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and other allies, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

United States President Joe Biden signed into law on Wednesday a $95 billion war aid measure that includes assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and that also has a provision that would force social media site TikTok to be sold or be banned in the US.

Biden underscored that the bill also includes a surge of humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza suffering as the Israel-Hamas war continues.

The legislation will send $17 billion in wartime assistance to Israel and $9 billion in humanitarian relief to citizens of Gaza and other war-torn regions — with Biden specifying at a White House event to announce the signing on Wednesday that the package “includes $1 billion for additional humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

Another $8 billion will go to counter Chinese threats in Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. US officials said about $1 billion of the aid could be on its way shortly, with the bulk following in the coming weeks.

Addressing the aid component for Israel, Biden noted that Iran launched an unprecedented direct missile and drone attack at Israel just days ago, but thanks to Israel’s defenses, “and other allies across the world, including from the region, no serious damage occurred.”

“My commitment to Israel, I want to make clear again, is ironclad,” he stressed. “The security of Israel is critical. I will always make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and terrorists it supports.”

The aid for Israel in the package, he said, “can help replenish Israel’s air defense and provide other critical defense so Iran can never carry out the destruction it intended with its attack 10 days ago.”

Biden also said Israel must ensure the aid for Palestinians in the bill reaches Gaza “without delay.”

US President Joe Biden speaks after signing the foreign aid bill at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP)

He noted that the package “significantly increases humanitarian assistance we’re sending to the innocent people of Gaza, who are suffering badly. They’re suffering the consequences of this war that Hamas started. And we’ve been working intently for months to get as much aid to Gaza as possible.”

He said that the bill “includes $1 billion for additional humanitarian aid in Gaza. We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it — surge it, including food, medical supplies, clean water. And Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay.”

Biden noted that “everything we do is guided by the ultimate goal of bringing these hostages [held by Hamas in Gaza] home, securing a ceasefire, and setting the conditions for an enduring peace.”

The war in Gaza erupted on October 7 when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military campaign to destroy Hamas and free 253 hostages abducted during the attack. The fighting has led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza as aid workers struggle to deliver supplies.

The signing of the war aid measure marks an end to a long, painful battle with Republicans in Congress over urgently needed assistance for Ukraine.

“We rose to the moment, we came together, and we got it done,” Biden said. “Now we need to move fast, and we are.”

A man rides a bicycle past the tombs of Ukrainian soldiers killed during the war, at Lisove cemetery in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 23, 2024. (Francisco Seco/AP)

Tucked into the measure is a provision that gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, nine months to sell it or face a nationwide prohibition in the United States. The president can grant a one-time extension of 90 days, bringing the timeline to sell to one year, if he certifies that there’s a path to divestiture and “significant progress” toward executing it.

The administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have called the social media site a growing national security concern.

TikTok said it will wage a legal challenge against what it called an “unconstitutional” effort by Congress.

“We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail,” the company said in a statement. “The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation. This ban would devastate seven million businesses and silence 170 million Americans.”

Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the US Capitol Building, in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP)

House Speaker Mike Johnson delayed a vote on the supplemental aid package for months as members of his party’s far right wing, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, threatened to move to oust him if he allowed a vote to send more assistance to Ukraine. Those threats persist.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested his fellow Republicans’ holding up the funding could have a lasting impact on Ukraine’s hopes of winning the war.

“Make no mistake: Delay in providing Ukraine the weapons to defend itself has strained the prospects of defeating Russian aggression,” McConnell said Tuesday. “Dithering and hesitation have compounded the challenges we face.”

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