President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday in a show of unity with the Middle East partner, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Blinken said during a brief appearance Monday evening in Israel that Biden will “reaffirm the United States’ solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security,” send a message to other groups and powers in the region not to attack Israel, and work to secure the release of hostages still held by the militant group Hamas.
Following his visit to Israel, Biden will go to Jordan to meet with the leaders of three Arab countries, according to a statement sent by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre late Monday.
“President Biden will again make clear, as he’s done unequivocally since Hamas’ slaughter of more than 1,400 people, including at least 30 Americans, that Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks,” Blinken said in a statement. “The president will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs.”
Biden will meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan.
According to Jean-Pierre, Biden “will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and will discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza” with those leaders.
Since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7, Biden and other administration officials have made strong professions of support for Israel. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, retaliatory air attacks and a siege cutting off food and other supplies to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is located, have killed over 2,600 people there as well.
Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin paid a personal visit to Israel late last week to express their support. Senator Chuck Schumer led a bipartisan Senate group that comprised Democrats Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona, as well as Republicans Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah.
On Monday, Biden postponed a trip to Pueblo, Colorado, to instead meet with his national security staff at the White House. The White House has made no comment on the president’s trip as of Monday evening.
Package of Help to Israel is in the Works
According to Schumer, Hamas still possesses more than 199 captives, most of whom are presumably American citizens.
Schumer, a New York Democrat and the highest-ranking Jewish public figure in the United States, said he would work with the White House to approve a package of military, intelligence, diplomatic, and humanitarian help to Israel.
“In the coming days, I will be working with the administration on putting together an emergency supplemental that will give Israel the tools it needs to defend itself,” Schumer said in a statement.
The Senate will take up the bill first, according to Schumer, while the House remains engaged in a leadership crisis following the departure of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also went out in support of Israel on Monday, saying the US should support Israel’s “efforts to defend itself for as long as it takes.”
“This is not merely a terrorist war against Israel,” McConnell explained. “It is part of a clear and present danger to the United States and the rest of the civilized world.” This… is a moment to make a decision. As Israel struggles to eradicate the terrorists who threaten its survival, the US must reaffirm its commitment to Israel’s security.”
Israeli leaders have stated that their goal is to eradicate Hamas, and many members of Congress have agreed.
However, the task is complicated by Hamas’ “ability to scatter and hide within the protective shield of Gaza’s civilian population,” according to an issue brief released last week by Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
‘We are not like the terrible Hamas militants’
Schumer emphasized the need to provide humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence and urged Israel to seek to reduce civilian fatalities.
“Israel has a very difficult task: to eliminate Hamas, save the hostages, but also minimize civilian casualties, which is a difficult task but one that Israel must and does strive to live up to,” Schumer said in a statement. “We are not like the evil Hamas militants.” Israel is not one of them. Both America and Israel must hold themselves to a higher standard. It is an integral component of who we are as democracies.”
Last week, more than 50 House Democrats wrote to Biden and Blinken, urging them to guarantee that Israel “takes all due measures to limit harm to innocent civilians” and handle the humanitarian catastrophe.
“We strongly believe that Israel’s response must take into account the millions of innocent civilians in Gaza who themselves are victims of Hamas and are suffering the consequences of their terror campaign,” they said in a statement.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Defense Minister, informed Blinken that peace was not on the horizon. “This will be a long war,” he warned, according to a State Department transcript. “The cost will be high.” But we will win for Israel and the Jewish people, as well as for the ideals that both countries hold dear.”