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10 Oct, 2023 04:47

White House hopes to merge Ukraine and Israel aid – media

The measure could push Republicans to support new assistance for Kiev
White House hopes to merge Ukraine and Israel aid – media

Top White House officials are considering whether to include more Ukraine funding in an emergency aid package for Israel, multiple news outlets have reported. One staffer suggested the move would force “far-right” lawmakers to authorize additional aid for Kiev.

Though President Joe Biden had already announced that military assistance was “on its way” to Israel following a surprise attack by Palestinian militants over the weekend, the White House has signaled that it would soon ask Congress to approve additional aid for the Jewish state.

Lawmakers in both parties and senior administration officials have hinted that the aid package could also include provisions for Ukraine, unnamed sources told the Washington Post, NBC News and other outlets on Monday. 

Though no final decision has been made, one anonymous official told the Post that the move would be wise because it “jams the far right” – referring to Republicans who vocally support Israel but are skeptical of continued aid to Ukraine. White House spokesman John Kirby, meanwhile, declined to say whether the two aid packages would be linked, only stating “We believe both are important.”

While debate over the aid is likely to be contentious, the Pentagon has insisted that it has plenty of weapons for all US partners. During a background briefing on Monday, a senior defense official told reporters that Washington could “continue our support both to Ukraine, Israel, and maintain our own global readiness,” noting that the US has been able to meet “every request that our Israeli counterparts have made.”

Israel is among the largest recipients of US foreign aid, taking in some $3.3 billion in American tax dollars in 2022 alone – a comparable amount to previous years – according to US government statistics. Since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022, Ukraine has also become a major beneficiary, with the White House approving at least $45 billion in direct military aid through 47 separate transfers.

Both Republicans and Democrats have largely voiced support for Israel after the deadly Hamas attack early on Saturday morning, which has prompted harsh retaliation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and an intense bombing campaign on Gaza. More than 1,500 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict so far, while Palestinian fighters claim to have captured more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages during their raids.

Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have evacuated their homes due to the violent flare-up, while the IDF has called on 300,000 reservists as it mobilizes for a larger conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country was in a state of “war” as the attack unfolded, and said on Monday that the military response was “just getting started.”

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