Biden to sign new Israel aid package after US Senate votes in favour

Biden to sign new Israel aid package after US Senate votes in favour
About $4 billion is dedicated to replenishing Israel’s missile defence systems while more than $9 billion would go toward humanitarian relief in Gaza
3 min read
24 April, 2024
Biden said the bill's approval showed America stood "resolutely for democracy and freedom" [archive/GETTY]

US President Joe Biden prepared to sign on Wednesday a long-delayed aid package which includes $26 billion for supporting Israel's war in Gaza, as well as a portion for providing humanitarian relief for Palestinians.

Days after the Republican-led House of Representatives cleared the aid -- part of a larger $95 billion package of assistance to allies including Ukraine and Taiwan -- the Democratic-controlled Senate followed suit, passing it with bipartisan support on a 79-18 vote on Tuesday.

The legislation also provides military aid for Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as a measure to ban TikTok in the United States if the popular social media app does not cut ties with its Chinese parent company.

"I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week," Biden said in a statement shortly after the vote.

Passage of the bill, which also provides much-needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, Sudan and Haiti, comes after months of acrimonious debate among lawmakers over how or even whether to help Ukraine defend itself.

The package allocates $26 billion for Israel and for providing humanitarian relief for people in Gaza. About $4 billion of that would be dedicated to replenishing Israel’s missile defence systems while more than $9 billion of the total would go toward humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz thanked the US Senate for approving the military aid, saying on the social media site X that it was "a clear testament to the strength of our alliance and sends a strong message to all our enemies."

The US approval comes as the war in Gaza enters its 201st day.

It was triggered by the 7 October on Israel by Hamas militants that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Since then, Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas and engaged in a blistering assault on the militant group, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian territory's health ministry says 34,183 people have been killed in Israel's military campaign in Gaza, most of them women and children.

The US bill also takes aim at TikTok. It would force the platform to divest from its Chinese parent company ByteDance or face a nationwide ban in the United States, where it has around 170 million users.

Western officials have voiced alarm over the popularity of TikTok with young people, alleging it is subservient to Beijing and a conduit to spread propaganda and gather personal data -- claims denied by the company.

TikTok and supporters have decried the prospective ban, warning it would trample free speech rights.