Taking a Rare Step, Biden to Deliver Oval Office Address About Israel

U.S. President Joe Biden departs the Oval Office and walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on  July 28. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA.org)

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will deliver an address to the nation from the White House’s Oval Office on Israel and Ukraine, a sign of how invested the United States is in the outcome of Israel’s war with Hamas.

“President Biden will address the nation to discuss our response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel and Russia’s ongoing brutal war against Ukraine,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday night to reporters. The speech will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.

Oval Office addresses are rare and signify major crises. President George W. Bush used the Oval Office in 2003 to announce his intention to invade Iraq. President Barack Obama spoke about a deadly Islamist mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015. President Donald Trump announced measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a March 2020 address.

Biden wants Congress to fund U.S. defense assistance for Israel as it deals with the aftermath of the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7, and as Ukraine seeks gains in its bid to oust Russian invaders. Congress remains stuck in neutral as Republicans remain unable to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker, after radicals on the party’s far right engineered his ouster two weeks ago.

There is widespread support for Israel funding in Congress but growing Republican opposition to additional funding for Ukraine. The latest republican to seek the speakership, Ohio’s Jim Jordan, says he would not advance funding for Ukraine. Jordan failed Wednesday in his second bid this week to be elected speaker, as Republican moderates and right-wingers remain incapable of reconciling.

Biden made a lightning visit Wednesday to Israel to show his support. While there, he secured an agreement from Israel to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which Hamas controls, from Egypt.


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