Biden will visit Israel to demonstrate U.S. support following Hamas attack

President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday in a show of
solidarity with the Middle East ally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken
said Monday.

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, Blinken said
during a brief appearance Monday evening in Israel. After the visit to
Israel, Biden will travel to Jordan to meet with the leaders of three
Arab nations, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a
statement 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. “The president will hear from Israel what it needs to
defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those

In Jordan, Biden will meet with that country’s King Abdullah,
Egyptian President Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas.

Biden “will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian
people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the
humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza” with those leaders, Jean-Pierre

Biden and top administration officials have made strong statements of
support for Israel since Hamas’ surprise attack Oct. 7. Retaliatory air
strikes and a siege cutting off food and other supplies to the Gaza
Strip, where Hamas is based, have killed more than 2,600 in that
territory as well, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel late
last week to demonstrate support in person. Senate Majority Leader Chuck
Schumer also led a bipartisan Senate delegation there that included
Democrats Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona and
Republicans Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah.

Biden canceled a planned trip to Pueblo, Colorado, on Monday to
instead meet with his national security team at the White House. As of
Monday evening, the White House had not made any statement about the
president’s travel.

Israel aid package in the works

Hamas still holds more than 199 hostages, Schumer said in a Monday floor speech, likely including U.S. citizens.

Schumer, a New York Democrat and highest ranking Jewish elected
official in the U.S., said that he would work with the White House to
approve an aid package to Israel that includes military, intelligence,
diplomatic and humanitarian assistance.

“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.

The Senate will act first on the package, Schumer said, as the U.S.
House remains mired in a leadership crisis following the ouster of
Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky,
also spoke Monday in support of Israel, saying the U.S. should back
Israel’s “efforts to defend itself for as long as it takes.”

“This is not merely a terrorist war against Israel,” McConnell said.
“It’s part of a clear and present danger to the United States and the
entire civilized world. This … is a time for choosing. As Israel works
to eliminate the terrorists who threaten its existence, the United
States must reaffirm our commitment to Israel’s security.”

Israeli officials have said their goal is to eliminate Hamas, and many members of Congress have endorsed that objective.

But 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 last week
by Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland
security at the Washington think tank Council on Foreign Relations.

‘We are not like the evil militants of Hamas’

Schumer highlighted the need to provide humanitarian aid for
civilians who have been affected by the violence and called for Israel
to work to minimize civilian casualties.

“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. “We are not like the evil militants of Hamas. Israel is not. In
America and in Israel, the countries must hold ourselves to a higher
standard. It is part of who we are as democracies.”

More than 50 U.S. House Democrats wrote
to Biden and Blinken last week to urge the administration to ensure
that Israel “take all due measures to limit harm to innocent civilians”
and address the humanitarian crisis.

“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 wrote.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Blinken that peace was not
imminent. “This will be a long war,” he said, according to a transcript
provided by the State Department. “The price will be high. But we are
going to win for Israel and the Jewish people, and for the values that
both countries believe in.”