Biden sends firm message to Jerusalem on Gaza aid in State of the Union address

President Joe Biden formally announced the US military would establish a temporary pier off the Gaza coast during his State of the Union address on Thursday night, sending strong messages to both Israel and Democrats who have taken to the streets and ballot boxes demanding a ceasefire and crucial aid for Palestinians. 

“This crisis began on October 7 with the massacre of 2,000 people, girls, men, and boys, slaughtered after enduring sexual violence. The deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” Biden said. “And 250 hostages taken.”

Biden acknowledged the 17 family members of American hostages who were invited to attend the address. 

“I pledge to all the families that will not rest until we bring every one of your loved ones home,” he said. 

Biden also said he’s been working “nonstop” to establish a six-week ceasefire, which would allow for the release of all of the hostages and get more aid into Gaza. 

US President Joe Biden delivers his third State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 07 March 2024. (credit: SHAWN THEW/POOL VIA REUTERS)

The war could end if Hamas laid down its arms, released the hostages, and surrendered those responsible for October 7, Biden said. 

“But Israel has the added burden as Hamas hides and operates among a civilian population like cowards, under hospitals, daycare centers, and the like,” Biden said. “There’s also a fundamental responsibility, though, to protect innocent civilians in Gaza.”

Support for Israel

Biden touted his career-long support of Israel, noting he’s the only US president to ever visit Israel during wartime. But his point to Jerusalem was firm: humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip, he said, protecting and saving innocent lives has to be priority. 

“Israel must allow more aid into Gaza where humanitarian workers are caught in the crossfire,” Biden said. 

Biden cited more than 30,000 Palestinians who have been killed and thousands more orphaned and displaced. Food and water is running out, Biden said. 

The temporary US military pier off of Gaza will provide water, medicine, and temporary shelter to Palestinians. 

No US boots will be on the ground in Gaza. 

Biden reiterated his administration’s support for a two-state solution as the future of peace and security in the region. 

“There’s no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, with whom I’m talking,” Biden said. 

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