Biden on Iran & Gaza in State of the Union

In his 2024 State of the Union address, President Biden pledged to protect U.S. personnel from the threat posed by Iran and its allies, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen. “That’s why I built a coalition of more than a dozen countries to defend international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” he said on March 7.

Biden also promised to bring back hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, a terrorist group supported by Tehran. Biden acknowledged Israel’s right to retaliation against Hamas after the October 7 massacre of some 1,200 people. But he also raised concerns with the Palestinian death toll, which had surpassed 30,000. Israel has a “fundamental responsibility, though, to protect innocent civilians in Gaza,” he added. Biden announced a plan for the U.S. military to construct a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to receive large shipments of humanitarian aid. The following are excerpts from the State of the Union.


On Iran and its Allies

"Creating stability in the Middle East also means containing the threat posed by Iran. That’s why I built a coalition of more than a dozen countries to defend international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

"I’ve ordered strikes to degrade the Houthi capability and defend U.S. forces in the region.

"As Commander-in-Chief, I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and our military personnel."


On Gaza

"I know the last five months have been gut-wrenching for so many people — for the Israeli people, for the Palestinian people, and so many here in America.

"This crisis began on October 7th with a massacre by a terrorist group called Hamas, as you all know. One thousand two hundred innocent people — women and girls, men and boys — slaughtered after enduring sexual violence. The deadliest day of the — for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. And 250 hostages taken.

"Here in this chamber tonight are families whose loved ones are still being held by Hamas. I pledge to all the families that we will not rest until we bring every one of your loved ones home.

"We also — — we will also work around the clock to bring home Evan and Paul — Americans being unjustly detained by the Russians — and others around the world.

"Israel has a right to go after Hamas. Hamas ended this conflict by releasing the hostages, laying down arms — could end it by — by releasing the hostages, laying down arms, and s- — surrendering those responsible for October 7th.

"But Israel has a h- — excuse me. Israel has a added burden because Hamas hides and operates among the civilian population like cowards — under hospitals, daycare centers, and all the like.

"Israel also has a fundamental responsibility, though, to protect innocent civilians in Gaza.

"This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed — most of whom are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands of innocents — women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned.

"Nearly 2 million more Palestinians under bombardment or displacement. Homes destroyed, neighborhoods in rubble, cities in ruin. Families without food, water, medicine.

"It’s heartbreaking.

"I’ve been working non-stop to establish an immediate ceasefire that would last for six weeks to get all the prisoners released — all the hostages released and to get the hostages home and to ease the intolerable an- — humanitarian crisis and build toward an enduring — a more — something more enduring.

"The United States has been leading international efforts to get more humanitarian assistance into Gaza. Tonight, I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters.

"No U.S. boots will be on the ground.

"A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day.

"And Israel must also do its part. Israel must allow more aid into Gaza and ensure humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the crossfire.

"And they’re announcing they’re going to — they’re going to ca- — have a crossing in Northern Gaza.

"To the leadership of Israel, I say this: Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority.

"As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution over time.

"And I say this as a lifelong supporter of Israel, my entire career. No one has a stronger record with Israel than I do. I challenge any of you here. I’m the only American president to visit Israel in wartime.

"But there is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and democracy. There is no other path that guarantees that Palestinians can live in peace with po- — with peace and dignity.

"And there is no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its neighbors — including Saudi Arabia, with whom I’m talking."