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Some US Republicans resist linking Israel, Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON – Some US Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday they would resist any funding request from Democratic President Joe Biden that combined military aid for Israel and Ukraine, amid resistance from some Republicans to further assistance for Kyiv.

Mr Biden and members of Congress from both parties pledged to do everything possible to support Israel after an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants on Saturday that has killed 1,200 Israelis and prompted an intense retaliation against the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip.

But Congress still must address the need to provide more funding for Ukraine as it fights Russian invaders. Mr Biden asked Congress in August to approve US$24 billion (S$32 billion) for Ukraine and related international needs, but the request has not been approved.

A relatively small but vocal group of Republicans has criticised Ukraine assistance for months, accusing Kyiv of failing to sufficiently fight corruption, which Ukrainian and US officials deny.

Some Ukraine backers suggested that Mr Biden should ask Congress for a new spending package combining assistance for Israel, Ukraine and even Taiwan as it faces increased pressure from China.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a news briefing on Wednesday that parameters for the administration’s additional funding request to Congress had not been finalised.

Some House of Representatives Republicans, already grappling with a leadership vacuum after the historic removal of Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker last week, said they would oppose a combined request.

“I don’t think there’s been an expressed request from Israel yet, but we want to be prepared to help them,” Republican Representative Don Bacon told reporters after administration officials conducted a classified briefing on the situation in Israel for the House on Wednesday.

Mr Bacon said he backed both aid to Israel and Ukraine, but thought they should be considered separately. “I support both but I think it would be a mistake to bundle them together,” he said. REUTERS

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