1:19 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Good to see everyone.  Have a couple things at the top before I turn it over to the Admiral.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, President Biden has made it a top priority to ensure that the Palestinian people receive urgently needed humanitarian aid.  This is something he’s been actively engaged on over the past week, including calls with President Sisi of Egypt and in meetings and calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

We were glad to see the first convoys of humanitarian assistance over the weekend cross the border into Gaza and reach Palestinians in need, and we’re grateful for partners involved in these efforts.

It is important to keep Rafah Crossing in operation and aid flowing without diversion from Hamas.

Humanitarian assistant [assistance] remains a critical and urgent need for Palestinians in Gaza.  We know — we know and we understand this — that much more is needed, and this will remain a priority — a priority for us in the days and weeks ahead.

I also wanted to say a few words about the supplemental request that we detailed to all of you on Friday. 

Under President Biden’s leadership, we have rallied a global response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and provided aid to Israel following Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attack.

We know need — we — we now need — pardon me.  We now need Congress to provide additional resources that will advance our national security and support allies — our allies and partners in their fight against tyrants and terrorists.

The supplemental the President put forward:

  • Invests in American defense industrial base to ensure our military readiness, strengthen the American economy, and create American jobs
  • Support Israel as it protects itself against Hamas
  • Helps Ukraine defend against Putin’s brutal invasion
  • Provides humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians devastated by Putin’s invasion and Hamas’s hor- — horrific attacks
  • Strengthens security and stability in the Indo-Pacific
  • Provides alternatives to corrosive [coercive] financing by PRC — the PRC
  • Strengthens border security and fights the flow of fentanyl

The world is watching, and the American people expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities.  We will continue to work with members of both parties to address these needs in a bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.

And with that, Admiral John Kirby from the National Security Council is here to answer any questions that you have on Israel and any other foreign-related items.


MR. KIRBY:  Thank you, Karine.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Just to briefly recap events of the past few days, I thought it would be good to kind of catch up here after the weekend.

On Friday, I think you all know, we successfully secured the release of two Americans that had been taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault on 7th of October, and the President had the chance to speak with them and with their families.

As he told other families that he met in Tel Aviv — family members of others who have — who have been taken hostage: We — we have no higher — higher priority than the safety of Americans that are being held around the world, and we’re con- — going to continue around the clock to see if we can get them home with their families where they belong.
It is literally an hour-by-hour effort here at the White House and at the State Department to find out where these folks are and to try to make as ma- — the effort to — to get them out and get them back.

As Karine just spoke about, of course, the first convoys over the weekend of humanitarian assistance crossed that border and was able to reach Palestinians in need.  And as she also said, we’re going to continue those efforts going forward.  It’s important that the aid be sustainable, and that’s what we’re focused on.

And, of course, throughout the weekend, the President received briefings from his national security team on all the latest developments. 

And yesterday, as you know, he convened calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu, His Holiness Pope Francis, and then, of course, with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

I’m sure you all saw the joint statement from all those leaders that they released last night, so I won’t reiterate it.  But you can, hopefully, take away from that a real clear consistency and unanimity for Is- — Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism while, of course, adhering to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

Now, we’ve also seen, over the course of the last few days — actually, the course of the last week, but certainly over the last couple of days of the weekend — an uptick in rocket and drone attacks by Iranian-backed proxy groups against military bases housing U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria.  And we’re deeply concerned about the potential for any significant escalation of these attacks in the days ahead.

At the direction of President Biden, the Secretary of Defense has ordered the military to take steps to prepare for this to ensure that we’re postured appropriately, both in terms of being able to defend our forces and respond decisively as needed.

The Secretary of Defense has directed two carrier strike groups to the region, and we are now sending more air defenses to U.S. air bases in the region.

Now, we know these groups are supported by the IRGC and their regime.  We know Iran continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah.  And we know that Iran is closely monitoring these events and, in some cases, actively facilitating these attacks and spurring on others who may want to exploit the conflict for their own good or for that of Iran.

We know Iran’s goal is to maintain some level of deniability here, but we’re not going to allow them to do that.

We also are not going to allow any threat to our interests in the region to go unchallenged.

We demonstrated last — we demonstrated last week that we have and will use the military capables [capabilities] available to us to protect and defend those interests.  And those capabilities are getter bigger and better every day. 

As President Biden has said, our message to any hostile actor seeking to escalate or widen this conflict is very simple: Don’t do it.

With that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right. 

MR. KIRBY:  — I’ll take some questions.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Admiral.

Go ahead, Steve.

Q    John, is it your view that the Israelis should begin their Gaza offensive whenever they feel ready?

MR. KIRBY:  It’s our view that the Israeli Defense Forces, Steve, need to decide for themselves how they’re going to conduct operations.  We’re not in the business of — of dictating terms to them, and we’re certainly not going to be in the business here from the White House of previewing any — any future operations one way or the other.  That would be inappropriate.

Q    And then, secondly, you said that Iran is actively facilitating these attacks.  What do you see?  What — what exactly are they doing?

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, their support for these Iran-backed proxies is no secret.  It’s pretty open.  And they’ve tried to make — they’ve made no secret of it — funding; resourcing, in terms of providing the rockets and the — and the munitions that they fire; training for some of these guys.

I mean, there is a — there is a connection between these — these groups and the IRGC — a very direct connection.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, MJ.

Q    The — we have reported that the administration has been urging Israel to delay a ground invasion.  Can you tell us whether other countries are making the same request?  Is there a coordinated effort on that front?

MR. KIRBY:  I won’t — MJ, I won’t speak for other nations and what communications they might be having with Israel. 

I can tell you, we have, since the beginning of the conflict, in the early hours, maintained a level of communication with our Israeli counterparts to ascertain their intentions, their strategy, their aims to — to see what their answers are to the kinds of tough questions that any military ought to be asking before you launch any kind of a major operation.  Have you thought through the branches?  Have you thought through the sequels?  Have you thought through the unintended consequences?

And so, we are in active conversation with them about that. 

Q    And, John, we’ve seen a number of leaders travel to Israel or commit to traveling to Israel — of course, the President himself. 

Is it your understanding that there would not be a ground invasion as long as there’s a head of state in the country?

MR. KIRBY:  That — that is a question for Israeli officials to speak to, MJ.  Again, I just don’t want to be in the position where I am speaking for the Israeli Defense Forces. 

Q    And just — another quick topic.  Why is it that people currently are not able to leave Gaza right now?  Do you have, sort of, an explanation as to why that humanitarian corridor for people to exit Gaza — why that isn’t open?  Is the obstacle Hamas?  Is it the Egyptians?

MR. KIRBY:  I think there’s a lot of factors going into why there’s no exit out.  We’re glad that stuff is going in, as Karine briefed you all, but — but we still want to see safe passage out and particularly for the several hundred American citizens that we know are in Gaza and want to leave.  And Ambassador Satterfield is on the ground, working this very, very hard. 

But there’s a number of factors.  And I think security — certainly, Egyptian officials have — have spoken to this.  I mean, there’s a — you know, they’ve got legitimate security concerns.  And again, we just need to — we just need to work through that. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Kelly.

Q    Admiral, can you tell us the latest on the status of hostages and the work to try to release additional hostages?  Do you see a category of those being held who might be, sort of, the next available to be released if that were to take place? Can you give us a sense of what that picture looks like?

MR. KIRBY:  I wish I could, Kelly.  I really do.  And these are all great questions.  But unfortunately, where we are right now in the process makes it impossible for us to publicly detail the efforts that are going on.

We are grateful for all of the help we got — and we got help — getting those two Americans out — the mother and daughter.  And we’re glad that — that they’re okay and they’re, you know, going to be reunited with the families and come back home.  But there’s a bunch of others that aren’t.

Now, a small group, we still — we still think, are Americans.  And then, there are dozens and dozens from other countries and, obviously, Israel as well. 

And there’s just a lot of effort going on, a lot of conversations and discussions with partners in the region.  And I think it’s just best if we don’t detail that.

Q    Do we have more specificity on the number of Americans?  It’s floated from “a handful” to as many as 10.  Anything more on that?

MR. KIRBY:  I want to be careful here because the numbers, as you rightly said, have fluctuated since the last time I talked to you.  Certainly, now we’re glad to know that the number is less than — less — down by two, obviously.  But we still have about 10 unaccounted for Americans, and it’s not exactly clear to us where those 10 people are. 

So, I would still categorize it as about a handful.  But — and I know that’s not the specificity you want, but that’s really as — as detailed as I think I should get today.

Q    And one — one last issue.  There’s a dual national from Maryland — a young man who went to serve in the IDF who was killed in action.  Can you speak to that situation — if the President has reached the family or has any intention to do that?  Any particulars there?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, I’ll certainly offer our deepest condolences to the family.  That’s — that’s news no — no mom and dad ever want to get.

I don’t have any communication to speak to one way or the other.  But again, our — our thoughts and prayers go to the family.  Sure. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, JJ.

Q    John, on a post-Hamas Gaza, if that were to happen, is there anything that you can share on what conversations the U.S. is having on what that post-Hamas Gaza would look like and who would run things?

MR. KIRBY:  Really, that’s going to be a conversation that Israeli officials, you know, need to start having amongst themselves. 

And I think — again, without speaking for them, I don’t think I’m going too far to say that the — the focus right now is on going after Hamas where they are in Gaza, getting humanitarian assistance in, and getting people out.  That’s where our focus is.

And — and I know the focus of the Is- — our Israeli counterparts is certainly on prosecuting these operations against Hamas. 

I think the issue of governance in Gaza certainly is not unimportant, but I — I wouldn’t speak for the Israelis in terms of how deeply they’re diving down into what that — what that needs to look like.

Q    But the U.S. is helping with that conversation piece?

MR. KIRBY:  We have had — we have talked to the Israelis, again, about their aims and strategy, and that includes some of the long-term issues that — that are out ahead of them.  But I think you can understand, appropriately, right now that the focus is on the operational picture. 

Q    And then, on the normalization process, can you say if Saudi Arabia has provided a list of requests for what it would like to see for that — those talks to start again between Saudi Arabia and Israel?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not tracking or aware of a specific threat.  Now, you’re talking post-October 7th.  I’m not aware of some sort of new list or homework assignment that they’ve submitted.

We still believe that those talks are important.  We still want to pursue normalization.  We understand that both in Israel and, of course, in Riyadh, there’s a different focus right now.  We get that. 

But we still believe there’s great value in pursuing normalization, and we have every intention of keeping that going. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nancy.

Q    Thank you, Admiral.  What kinds of humanitarian aid would the U.S. like to see reaching the Palestinians before Israel launches a ground invasion?

MR. KIRBY:  Let’s — can I bifurcate that question?  Because I don’t — I’m not going to sit here and assume that there’s going to be some sort of a ground invasion.  And I’m certainly not going to speak to hypothetical timing if there’s going to be.

Let’s just talk about humanitarian assistance writ large.  And you heard Karine: We are getting food, water, medicine into Gaza.  Not enough.  I mean, there’s been, I think — what? — three convoys to Gaza.  Not enough. 

I mean, there’s been, I think — what? — three convoys, some — a little less than 60 trucks.  That’s a good start, but it is just a start, and we want to see it keep going.  And I think, over the coming days, you’re going to continue to see convoys of trucks getting in. 

But it’s also, you know — fuel was also an issue.  We know that you need fuel to run the power generators in hospitals.  You need fuel to run the pumps in — in the desalination facility so that people can drink fresh, healthy water.  So, fuel is another thing that we’re — that we’re working on.

Q    But whether or not there is a ground invasion, do you view humanitarian aid getting there first as important?

MR. KIRBY:  Whether or not there’s a ground invasion, we believe that humanitarian assistance flowing to the people of Gaza is critically important and it needs to go as soon as possible and as much as possible. 

Q    So, where does the President stand on this?  Because there was some confusion over the weekend about whether or not he had said that, yes, he does want Israel to wait until human assistance — humanitarian assistance can get to the Palestinians before any invasion.

MR. KIRBY:  We have been — we have been crystal clear with our partners in the region, including Israel, that we want to see humanitarian assistance flow.  There’s been no change to our posture on that at all. 

But as I said, I think to Steve’s question, we’re not dictating military terms to the Israeli Defense Forces.  They have a right and a responsibility to go after these terrorists.  And they certainly are going to do it in a way that they choose to — that they believe is appropriate to the threat. 

We’re definitely going to support them in terms of providing the capabilities for them to continue to prosecute Hamas terrorists.  In fact, security assistance has continued to flow over the course of the weekend, and it will.  But we’re not dictating terms to them. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    So, the — thank you.  So, the U.N. Secretary-General, the European Union Foreign Policy Chief, and several international leaders are calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.  Will we see the United States calling for a humanitarian pause?

MR. KIRBY:  What we want right now is: make sure Israel has the tools it needs to defend itself and to go after Hamas and that humanitarian assistance keeps flowing.

Now, it’s started, and it’s good thing.  We want to keep it going and keep it sustainable.  That’s what we’re focused on.

Q    Admiral, so sorry.  You mentioned this joint statement yesterday where President Biden and several Western allies asked Israel to protect civilians, but the death toll in Gaza is rising sharply.  Does it look to you that Israel is abiding by international law?  Are they listening to your advice?

MR. KIRBY:  We’re not going to parcel out each and every event that happens on the battlefield, especially since we’re not there.

I can just tell you that there hasn’t been a conversation that we’ve had with Israeli counterparts — and we’ve had them at all levels — where we aren’t talking about not just what they want to do but how they want to do it.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jacqui.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  John, two Fridays ago, I reported that the U.S. was urging Israel to delay a ground invasion.  The day after, officials here issued statements to other outlets denying that was the case.  In the days, week-plus since, other outlets have started to report the same information that I had.  But today, you’re not confirming any of those reports.

My question is, aren’t you at all concerned that if the U.S. is not clear with the public about what we’re asking or suggesting to Israel that they do here that that’s going to complicate getting this aid package through Congress?  I mean, you guys are asking for more than $105 billion, which a portion of this goes toward Israel.  Are — are you concerned that not being clear with folks about what the U.S. is advising Israel to do will hamper support in Congress for this aid?

MR. KIRBY:  We’ve been very clear and consistent about our support for Israel and their ability to defend themselves, Jacqui.  We’ve been very clear and consistent about the fact that we’re going to keep providing security assistance so that they can do that.  We’ve been clear and consistent about the need for humanitarian assistance to flow, and clear and consistent about our desire to get people out of Gaza, as well as to get our hostages home. 

I think we’ve been very clear and consistent throughout, and that includes with members of Congress. 

And yes, we are going to need congressional support to continue to support Israel.  We’ve got enough appropriations available to us for a while longer.  How long is that “while” is going to depend on the expenditure rate and the kinds of operations that they’re conducting. 

So, we desperately need Congress to act on the supplemental request.

Q    Well, you said you were — you’ve been asking tough questions about — of the Israelis about their strategy here.  Are you liking the answers that they’re giving you?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not going to talk about the details of the conversations that we’re having.  Again, these have been clear and consistent conversations, again, making sure that they have what they need and that they — and that they are thinking through — that we are asking them what their answers are to the kinds of questions that any military ought to be asking itself as it conducts operations.

Q    But on the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahe- —

Q    — on the aid portion, you know, how, for instance, are you going to convince people that this is not going to get into Hamas’s hands —

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.

Q    — when, for instance, you know, we saw fraud with something like COVID relief money in the U.S., and we’re now talking about securing an understanding with Hamas — a terror group — about how this humanitarian aid should be used?  I mean, how can you convince people that that is going to be a worthwhile, necessary, and secure endeavor?

MR. KIRBY:  We certainly share concerns about any diversion of humanitarian assistance for Hamas purposes.  I mean, for instance, fuel is a good example. 

You know, that the — we know that they need fuel to be able to electrify and to power up their tunnels, for instance, you know, keep the lights on.  So, we — we understand that. 

We’re not blind to potential concerns here over diversion, which is why Ambassador Satterfield is on the ground.  His whole purpose is to make sure that that humanitarian assistance can get to the Palestinian people. 

We have seen no indications, as of today, that any of the trucks that Karine talked about, any of the material in those trucks have been diverted to Hamas or been absconded by Hamas.  That — in fact, every indication that we have is that it has in fact gone to — to the Palestinian people, who — who are — who are in desperate need for it. 

I would remind folks that we have trusted partners on the ground — humanitarian aid organizations and, of course, the U.N. Relief Agency is on the ground — and they very much are taking a personal stake — a professional and personal stake in making sure that that aid is getting where it’s needed. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead —

MR. KIRBY:  And we’re go- — and we’re going to watch it clo- — obviously, we’re going to watch this closely.  We — we don’t want to see Hamas benefit any more than anybody else does. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Just following on that, how does the U.S. go about knowing that it is getting to who it’s supposed — the aid is getting to who it’s supposed to get to and not — Hamas isn’t taking a bit off the top?

And then, second, could you confirm that the President has sent Lieutenant General James Glynn and some other folks to advise the Israelis?

MR. KIRBY:  So, on your first question, Aamer — in fact, I’m going to write these down because I’m going to probably forget.  (Laughs.) 

But on your first question, as I said, we’re working with trusted partners on the ground, including the U.N.  And that’s the way we — we do it in so many countries around the world where we don’t have a footprint and we don’t have a — or any regions of the world we just — where we don’t have a footprint. 

I mean, we’re not on the ground to personally inspect these things, but we do have trusted partners on the ground, including the U.N. and some of these aid organizations who will report what they’re seeing and — and where they’re taking this material and — and who — and who’s getting it.  So, we’re — we’ll stay in close touch with them. 

And we all share the same desire that Hamas not be able to divert any of this stuff for their own purposes.  We all share that des- — and it’s not just the United States.  You said “How’s the United States going to monitor…”  The whole international community has a stake here in making sure that the people of Gaza get this food, water, medicine, and other vital needs met.

On the — your second question, what I can tell you is that — that there are a few relevant military officers with experience — the kinds of experience that — that — that we believe is appropriate to the sorts of operations that — that Israel is conducting and may conduct in the future to go over there to share some perspectives from their own experience and to ask the hard questions — the same hard questions that we’ve been asking of our Israeli counterparts since the beginning. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead —

Q    Can you say how many?

MR. KIRBY:  A few.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

MR. KIRBY:  A few. 

Q    Thank you, Admiral.  Israel has repeatedly said that its top priority is destroying Hamas, so what is America’s top priority?  And are the two countries on the same page here?

MR. KIRBY:  America’s top priority — I think President Biden made that clear when we were over there — is to make sure that Israel has the tools and the capacity and the capabilities to go after Hamas terrorists and to make sure humanitarian assistance flows in and to make sure we can get innocent civilians who want to leave Gaza out, including American citizens.

Q    If Israel does begin this ground invasion, could you just outline how this would complicate getting the remaining hostages out and how it would impact America’s strategy?

MR. KIRBY:  Again, I just don’t think it’s wise for me to get up here and do a bunch of speculating and hypothesizing about operations that haven’t happened yet.  We’ll let the Israelis speak for themselves and for what operations they’re going to conduct. 

All I can tell you is we’re going to make sure that they have what they need to do it and that the humanitarian assistance keeps flowing.

Q    But are there any differences?  Because you outlined three top priorities for America, and Israel has repeatedly said the top priority is destroying Hamas.  So, how can you achieve all of the priorities from America at the same time Israel gets their top priority?

MR. KIRBY:  We agree that the top priority has got to be going after Hamas.  I — there’s no — there’s no daylight here.  We also think it’s important for humanitarian assistance to flow and for our hostages to get home with their families, and we’re working all three of those things. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Way in the back.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Have you been tracking new reporting coming out that Hamas and the Red Cross are working together to exchange another 50 Israeli and dual-citizenship hostages?  Is there anything you can say about that?

MR. KIRBY:  No, I cannot. 

Q    And then, another question on Iran.  Some officials have expressed concern over escalation, particularly with Iran.  And Iran’s foreign minister warned, quote, “Anything would be possible at any moment and the region will get out of control.” 

So, have you seen any indication that Iran is preparing to further expand this conflict more so than what we’ve already seen play out?

MR. KIRBY:  I touched a little bit on that in my opening statement.  We know that they’re supporting these groups.  We know they’ve supported Hamas and Hezbollah.  We know they’re monitoring these events very, very closely, and in some cases, urging on some of these groups. 

And that’s why I made it clear the President wants to — does not want to see this conflict widen.  We have added additional military capability into the region to deter any such action.  And we will act appropriately to protect and defend our national security inters- in the re- — security interests in the region. 

You saw that just last week when a guided-missile destroyer shot down missiles and drones that were potentially on their way into Israel.  We — we take those responsibilities seriously, and anybody else in the region ought to be paying attention to that. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  John, do you have an update on whether Iran was directly involved in the October 7th attack on Israel?  Because some Israeli officials say that they have evidence, but they have not presented any yet.

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, I would say we’re in the same place we were.  We know there is complicity here by Iran.  As I just said, they have been supporting Hamas for years — dec- — a couple of decades, and Hamas wouldn’t be able to function or exist without Iran. 

But I can’t stand here before you and say that we’ve seen a particular piece of intelligence that — that shows that they were participating in, witting of, directing what happened on October 7th.

But again, nobody’s doubting, nobody’s walking away from the fact that Iran does bad things with bad people in that part of the world. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead —

Q    On China, how does the White House see China’s role in the Israel-Hamas conflict?  And what’s your reaction to China sending six warships to, like, the Middle East?

MR. KIRBY:  I’ll let China speak for their foreign policy in the region and — and whatever their — their take is.  I — I’ve seen them call for both sides to — to ratchet down the — the violence. 

We — we’ve been clear about where we are, and we’re on Israel’s side here.  Israel needs this support to go after Hamas terrorists.  That’s not going to change. 

And I’ll let them speak to their naval maneuvers and where they’re putting their ships.

Q    Are you talking to China or Russia on the Israel-Hamas conflict or not? 

MR. KIRBY:  I know of no particular conversations we’ve had bilaterally with either country thus far. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead. 

Q    Thanks, Karine.  John, speaking of the Americans in Gaza, some are being told that — by the State Department and by the administration to go to the border.  We were told on Saturday they were told to go the border, but they obviously could not leave. 

Are you still advising Americans to go to the border?  You know, what’s the holdup there?

MR. KIRBY:  You’d have to talk to the State Department.  I — I can’t speak for the communication that they’re having with American citizens there. 

What I can tell you is that we are working this very, very hard to get them out of Gaza, again, through that — through Rafah.  And Ambassador Satterfield literally is working this as you and I are speaking right now. 

And so, we obviously — if we — if we want to get them out, we want to have them available, as close by as possible so that that can be affected in a very efficient way. 

But as for what specific messages the State Department is sending today, on Monday, you’d have to talk to them.

Q    Speaking about what President Biden said on Friday at the fundraiser — he talked about the Hamas attack being carried out to disrupt the normalization efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Can you talk more about what he meant by that?  Is that the administration’s position, is what I’m (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY:  We certainly can’t discount the fact that that could have been — that could have been a goal here.  I mean, look, Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the map.  They simply just want to kill as many Israelis as they can.  That was the purpose of October 7th: to just take life. 

And it is perfectly possible that — that there were other geopolitical goals here, as the President alluded to, because normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, you can see that that would not be in the interest of terrorist groups like Hamaz [sic] it cert- — Hamas — it certainly wouldn’t be in the interest of — of their backer in Tehran. 

Q    Do you think that’s the top reason why they did it?

MR. KIRBY:  I — I can’t specify specifically what the top reason.  I’m not — I’m not in the minds of the — the terrorists.  But the — the President was certainly laying out a very real potential factor behind what they did. 

Q    Admiral Kirby, do you —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Danny.

Q    Thanks, Karine.  Admiral, the President has spoken a lot about, you know, the work he’s done in building a coalition behind — behind Ukraine in supporting Ukraine.  Are there any concerns that U.S. support for Israel and — and, you know, as civilian casualties rise in Gaza — is there any concern that that could undermine support for the U.S. stance on Ukraine with countries in the Global South, for example, and from Brazil and Asia and Africa, who, you know, might be in — you know, in terms of their — you know, their views on — on Gaza?

MR. KIRBY:  Look, supporting both right now — both countries is important to President Biden.  That’s why we submitted a supplemental funding request last week.  It’s important that both get the support that they need not just from the United States, but from the international community. 

And — and we’re — we’re dedicated to that outcome.  We’re going to stay dedicated to that — to that effort. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Yes.  I wanted to ask you about if they are concerns in the administration regard — in regards to this funding that you guys requested from Congress, given the fact that some of the leadership of the Republican Caucus was saying that they would like to approve only a package for Israel and a separate package for Ukraine. 

MR. KIRBY:  Yeah, I’ll let members of Congress speak for themselves in terms of how they want to move this supplemental request forward. 

We submitted together because we believe all of it is important.  Every dollar that we asked for for the supplemental funding is of an urgent nature, and we urge Congress to move on all of it as quickly as possible. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Phil.

Q    Thank you.  With regards to American hostages, you noted that there were conversations and discussions with partners in the region.  And on Friday, after those two Americans were thankfully freed, the President thanked the Israelis and Qataris for their partnership in this work.  Are the Israelis or Qataris negotiating with Hamas on our behalf?  And would the United States ever negotiate with Hamas in order to (inaudible) —

MR. KIRBY:  I’m not going to go into any more detail about the discussions and the negotiations to get those Americans home.  If I were to do that for you today, I might actually put at risk opportunities to get more people out.  And I’m just not going to do that. 

Q    Second question, then: There’s been an uptick on the right among some Republicans who have called for students or foreign nationals who are demonstrating in some of these pro-Palestine demonstrations or, you know, allegedly pro-Hamas demonstrations to have their student visas pulled or to face deportation.  What is the administration’s remark — response to those kinds of remarks and that kind of rhetoric?  Is that an overreaction?

MR. KIRBY:  That — I — I would just tell you — I would just tell you that you don’t have to agree with every sentiment that is expressed in a free country like this to — to stand by the — the idea — the First Amendment and the idea of peaceful protest.  I’ll leave it at that. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Go. 

Q    Okay, thank you.  Thank you.

Q    Yeah, can you talk about the degree to which the —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    — your efforts to get the supplemental funding and work on the crisis are complicated by the fact that we still don’t have a Speaker after all these days?

MR. KIRBY:  It would certainly be helpful to have a Speaker of the House.  Procedurally, that’s — that’s how you get new legislation to the — to the floor.  I’ll let our — I’ll let the House Republicans speak to their process and what they’re — they’re doing. 

We know that there is significant bipartisan support for continuing the support in Ukraine and continuing to support Israel — both chambers, by the way.  We know there is a lot of bipartisan support there. 

The President is urging Congress to act as soon as possible. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  A couple more.  Go ahead, in the back.

Q    Thank you, (inaudible).  Mr. John, we’ve seen that the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his last trip to northern Israel, is threatening the whole — whole Lebanon if Hezbollah enters the war from the north front. 

But you know very well that the Lebanese people has no — like no power overriding Hezbollah’s decision if it wants to enter or not.  Why (inaudible) the whole price if mili- — a militia group like Hezbollah don’t listen to us, don’t listen to the government unless we asking a civil war, unless we asking for the Lebanese army to interfere and stop Hezbollah from doing so?

So, why we need to pay the whole price based on Hezbollah’s action?

MR. KIRBY:  I didn’t understand the exact question.  What —

Q    So, as — as Lebanese, not — not pro-Hezbollah, why we need to pay the price if Hezbollah enters the war because —

MR. KIRBY:  Why do the Lebanese people need to pay the price?

Q    Yeah.  Because Netanyahu said he’s going to bring Lebanon to the “stone age.”  Do you think we all happy to see that happening in our home?

MR. KIRBY:  Look, we know that Hezbollah does not speak for the Lebanese people — the broad, vast majority of the people of Lebanon — we know that — any more than Hamas doesn’t speak for the aspirations of the vast majority of the Palestinians living in Gaza. 

We have said from the very beginning: We don’t want to see any actor try to take advantage of the situation to widen or deepen the conflict, and that certainly includes Hezbollah.  And that’s why the President has added additional military forces to the region, and more forces will be coming in days and weeks ahead to try to deter any actor from widening or deepening this conflict. 

I understand the question.  I don’t think, at this stage, it’s helpful to speculate about something that hasn’t happened, and hopefully will not happen. 

What I can tell you is we know we have significant national security interests in the region, and we’re going to work to protect and defend those interests with additional military capability.  And any actor who’s beginning to think about entering in and widening or deepening this conflict ought to take a look at —

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. KIRBY:  — at how seriously we’re taking our responsibilities. 

Q    So, adding more military and — so, can we understand what is the job description for these two ships?  Is it only to supply military aid for Israel or also could be possible to enter the war if — if anything had break in that region?  Just a bit of information regarding that matter?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, first of all, it’s not two ships.  It’s two carrier strike groups. 

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. KIRBY:  There’s a lot of ships in a strike group; I can speak from experience on that one. 

And you got the Gerald R. Ford strike group that’s in the eastern Mediterranean.  You saw Secretary of Defense Austin announce that the Eisenhower Strike Group, which is still crossing the Atlantic right now, will operate for a time in the Med, and then she’s going to go on through and into the Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East — the Gulf region.

They are there for two purposes.  And I — I’m going to say it again, and you’re probably sick of me saying this, but it’s true.  One is to deter any other actor from widening, deepening this conflict.  And two is to make sure that we are ready, poised, and able to protect and defend our national security interests in the region writ large.  That’s what they’re there for. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Go ahead, Jon.

Q    Thanks a lot, Karine.  John, in regards to the emergency supplemental, you’ve spoken before about the emergency need for funding for Ukraine.  I was wondering if you can talk about what you see about the urgency for funding Israel — why that portion of the aid that you are requesting is so necessary right now. 

MR. KIRBY:  Because if we’re — if we don’t get relief, Jon, we could potentially have a lapse in our ability to provide those kinds of munitions to Israel. 

We have existing appropriations funds available to continue to support Israel for a time — for a short time.  Again, I can’t be perfectly specific because a lot of it depends on the pace of their operations and what they’re going through. 

We also need to make sure we have appropriations to replenish DOD stocks.  We have national security interests around the world as well that we have to meet.  And we’ve provided an awful lot out of — out of our inventory.  We need to be able to replenish that.  But it’s vitally important. 

And then, just to put a fine point on this, I mean, the –the figure we asked for — which is, you know, a little bit more than $14 billion — was directly after consultations with our Israeli counterparts.  We didn’t pull that number out of thin air.  It absolutely was a result of the conversations that we had with the Israelis about the kinds of needs that they have for as long as they think they might need them.

Q    And then, separately, on the hostages.  A spokesperson for Hamas has suggested that Hamas would release all of the hostages that are in Gaza right now in exchange for a ceasefire.  Do you view that as a credible offer?

MR. KIRBY:  We got take anything that Hamas says with a huge grain of salt.  We don’t take anything that they say at face value. 

Here’s an idea.  And it’s just an idea I’ll throw out there.  They could release them all now.  Just take — just let them go now because these people didn’t do anything wrong.  They’re just innocent civilians being caught up in this conflict.  Let them go now. 

Now, I recognize that’s not going to happen, which is why we’re going to keep working with our partners in the region to do what we can to get them released. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Emel.

Q    Thank you very much.  John, can you confirm reports that — suggesting that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is planning to visit Washington this week?  And I was wondering if you can tell — tell us the objective of this meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister.

MR. KIRBY:  There’s been some discussions about a p- — some — some potential meetings with — with Wang Yi maybe as soon as — as this week.  But I think the State Department will have more to say about that later today. 

Q    And also, on the Philippine incident with China, what message is the White House sending to China about the incident yesterday that happened between China and Philippines?

MR. KIRBY:  I’m sorry, between —

Q    The vessel collision incident that the — with the Philippines and China. 

MR. KIRBY:  What message are we sending to China?

Q    I mean, what is — what is — what do you say to China about this conflict?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, I see you’re calling it a conflict.  I — I’m not aware of a collision, so I’ll have to go back to the team and get some more information. 

But just broadly speaking, we’ve been very clear about the intimidating, coercive, and, frankly, in some cases, reckless behavior by the PLA air and maritime forces, as well as their so-called Coast Guard in terms of bullying the navies and coast guards and fishing vessels of neighboring states.  We’ve been very clear that’s unacceptable.  It needs to stop. 

But I can’t tell you about this specific event because this is the first I’ve heard of it. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  We’ve got to wrap it up. 

Go ahead, in the back.

Q    John, you were talking (inaudible) to the carrier strike groups, that there’d be more forces in the days and weeks ahead.  Can you outline what you were talking about, what that would — might look like?

MR. KIRBY:  No. 

Q    All right.  (Laughter.)

I want to know how that would be consistent with the President’s promise back in 2019 that he’s getting out of the forever wars if you’re adding more troops.  This looks like the exact opposite. 

MR. KIRBY:  The whole reason we’re sending that stuff over there is to prevent any widening or deepening of this particular war.  It’s all about deterrence. 

And you heard the Secretary of Defense talk.  It’s not just about naval forces or we’re adding some air defense systems and some aircraft squadrons to the region as well, it’s all about preventing war.  It’s all about preventing it. 

Thank you.

Q    Can you give us a timeline of what that might look like?


MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Jalil.  Just this —

MR. KIRBY:  Oh, yeah.

Q    Thank you very much, Karine.  There is no doubt that the U.S. is known for human rights values around the world.  Don’t you think the U.S. has delayed this time, as far as human rights are concerned, what is happening in Palestine since day one?

MR. KIRBY:  No.  I couldn’t disagree more with you, sir.  Not at all. 

I mean, from — from the very beginning, early hours of this conflict, we made clear not just to our Israeli counterparts but to the American people and people around the world that we take the respect for innocent life seriously. 

And we have been talking about the law of war since the beginning.  And you can go back to the first statement that the President made after the attacks of October 7th and see it right there.  It’s been a part and parcel of every conversation that we’ve had. 

And we have been working hard.  We have been spearheading the efforts to get that humanitarian assistance in. 

It came — those first truck convoys that Karine talked about — came after President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and then to President Sisi on the phone coming home on — on — on Air Force One on Wednesday night to get that stuff moving.  And within a couple of days — they had some road repairs they had to do — it started flowing. 

No, sir, we have been working the issue of — of human and civil rights and protection for innocent life since the very beginning, and that’s not going to stop. 

Q    And the rallies that happened in some of those countries, which are the allies of the United States, some of the rallies were in very huge numbers.  Don’t you think President Biden need to play a role towards peace instead of saying that he could handle two wars at a time?  Does that give a good impression to fight two wars at a time instead of working towards peaceful things?

MR. KIRBY:  From the beginning of this administration, we have been working for a more integrated, cooperative, peaceful, stable, and prosperous Middle East.  And I’m not going to reiterate for you the list of accomplishments, but they’re all there.  I’m happy to send you an email with them. 

We have been working hard on trying to get the Middle East to be a more stable, prosperous region.  That’s not going to change. 

Now, obviously, you know, these attacks on October 7th were horrific, and the Israelis have a right and a responsibility to respond to those attacks.  I think everybody understands that. 

And so, we also understand that the focus of countries in the region, particularly Israel, is going to be on that.  It’s our — it’s our focus, too.  But that doesn’t mean we’re going to give up.  This doesn’t mean we’re just going to walk away from it. 

We still believe in the promise of a two-state solution, and we’re still going to continue to work for that.  We still believe — as a matter of fact, key to eventually getting a two-state solution is normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  And we’re still going to work on that as well. 

Q    So, why is the President not focusing in these last couple of weeks on his agenda that was basically for a two-nation theory?  I feel like in the last two weeks, this war has lowered what the President was aiming to — to bring normalization through two states, and that whole region —

MR. KIRBY:  I just —

Q    — it seems like has been put down —

MR. KIRBY:  I just told you, sir.  There was no change in our desire to — to see a two-state solution.  There is absolutely no change in — in our efforts to try to get normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia as a stepping stone to a two-state solution. 

But we’re — we’re not blind to reality.  Right now, Israel is fighting to defend itself against Hamas terrorists, and we’re trying to help them do that.  Right now, the focus of the region is on what’s going on.  And right now, the President’s focus, appropriately, sir, is on trying to prevent and widen and deepen this conflict to deter a larger war, so that we can get back to the table and we can move forward on those key diplomatic steps.  Thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Thank you, Admiral. 

MR. KIRBY:  Yes, ma’am, thank you. 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  I try to keep John as long as we can.  (Laughs.)  But the President is going to be starting his event pretty soon.  If folks have any other additional questions, I’m happy to take them go home. 

Go ahead, Aamer.

Q    Just on the state visit, was there any thought of postponing because of the war in the Middle East? 

And just more broadly, is there any concern that such a celebration could come off as, I don’t know, a little tone deaf, considering all the suffering both in Israel and Gaza?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, appreciate the question.  And obviously, this — we — we’ve seen some of the- — these reportings. 

Look, we believe that there is no more important time than now to have the — this state visit with our — with the — with Au- — the Australians, and to demonstrate, of course, our strength and partnership and alliances — right? — as we continue to have conversations with our partners or have conversations with our allies — right? — as we are continuing to see the invasion that continues in Ukraine, right?  So, having these conversations with one of our allies, like Australia, is incredibly important. 

And so, that’s what you’re going to see.  You’re going to see two leaders come together, continuing to talk about the partnership that they’re hoping to — to — to put — continue to put forward. 

And so, look, it doesn’t stop the work that the President has continued to do, whether it’s these diplomatic conversations, these important bilateral visits, or whether it’s domestic issues here — right here in this country. 

And so, the President, as he has been doing, is going to continue to do the work of the president, to do the work of the Commander-in-Chief, and this is no different. 

Q    And just one more real quick. 


Q    UAW expanded its strike today.  Is it time for Gene Sperling and Acting Secretary Su to be on the ground in Detroit?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Well, as you know, they’ve been — they have been to Detroit in the past couple of weeks.  They have been closely engaged with UAW and the Big Three.  That — that continues.  Obviously, they’re not part of the negotiation.  They’re offering any assistance that the Big Three or UAW may need. 

Look, we — we believe — the President believes that collective bargaining is incredibly important, for those sides to come together and continue to have those negotiations, continue to have those conversations.  And we are here to assist in any way.  And we have been.  We have been doing that. 

But again, collective bargaining so that there is — you know, hopefully that there is a win-win agreement.  And if it’s done, it’s in good faith.  We have seen it in the past two years under this administration work out in different scenarios.  And so that’s what we’re hoping that continues. 

Go ahead, MJ.

Q    Was the President briefed on Samantha Woll, the leader of a synagogue in Detroit who was stabbed to death?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, obviously, our hearts go out to — to the family — to the families there.  It’s a devastating, devastating news story. 

The President obviously is — is — just like everyone else is paying close attention and saw those reports.  I don’t have anything else to add. 

Obviously, the investigation continues, and we are willing to assist in any way.  I just don’t have anything else beyond that. 

Q    What is his level of concern right now about the potential rise of antisemitism in light of everything that’s going on in Israel?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, a couple of things.  Look, we have not seen any credible threats.  I know there’s been always questions about credible threats.  And so, just want to make sure that that’s out there. 

But, look, Muslim and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks.  And certainly President Biden understands that many of our Muslim, Arab — Arab — Arab Americans and Palestinian American loved ones and neighbors are worried about the hate being directed at their communities.  And that is something you heard the President speak to in his — in his address just last — last Thursday. 

And so, one of the things that the President has done is directed his team — Homeland Security team to prioritize prevention and disruption of any emerging threats that could harm the Jewish, the Muslim, Arab Americans or — or any other communities.  And that is something that the President has sought to do and — and — since day one.

As you know, the President ran on — on — on, you know, bringing commu- — protecting communities, obviously, but bringing people together, the soul — protecting the soul of the nation.  And so that is something that the President takes very, very seriously. 

And we — you know, we’re going to continue to denounce any sort of hate towards any American here.  And so, that’s what we’re going to continue to be steadfast on.  Again, he has — he has advised — directed his Homeland Security team to make sure that they’re on top of this. 

Go ahead. 

Q    Are there specific deliverables you’re hoping to get out of the Australian meeting this week or is it more of a consultation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’ll have more on the agenda for the meeting.  I certainly don’t want to get ahead of the deliverables that will come out on Wednesday.  But certainly, we’ll have more to share. 

And obviously, we tend to have these background calls that NSC leads.  And so, we’ll — we’ll have some more in-depth on the priorities and the agenda and what we’re looking to do. 

Oh, I haven’t called on you.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  I know John Kirby addressed the protests on college campuses, and I appreciate that the President respects First Amendment rights to protest, but does the President view anti-Israel protests and sentiment on college campuses as antisemitism?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I’m not going to get into what’s happening across the country in — at different universities.  I’m not going to get into the specifics.

As the Admiral said, the First Amendment right — right? — that’s what something — a peaceful protest is really part of — part of our democracy, being able for folks to — to be able to express their feelings. 

I’m not going to get into any, you know, specifics on that.  The President has been very clear in wanting to make sure that Jewish Americans, wanting to make sure that Arab Americans, Muslims are protected here.  That is what he believes in — that we — they have the right to live their lives and to feel protection and to feel like they’re able to be part of a community.  The President has been very, very clear on denouncing any type of violence. 

And so, as it relates to peaceful protesting, people have the right to do that.  But we’re just not going to get into blow by blows of what’s going on across the country. 

Q    Well, not —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  The President has been very clear —

Q    Not to get —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — very clear —

Q    — into blow by blow, but the President himself said “silence is complicity.”  So, if there’s antisemitic letters being sent by students or protests, sentiment at protests —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Of course — of course, the President doesn’t — is — is against antisemitism.  Of course.  This is a president that you have heard me say is parti- — wants to protect communities, whether it’s the Jewish community, the Arab American pre- — community, the Palestinian community.  This is someone who is going to speak out against antisemitism.  Of course. 

But you’re asking me — you’re — you were kind of conflating the two.  You were asking me about pro- — protests, and you were asking me about this question. 

Q    I think if you talked to a lot of the protesters, you’ll hear antisemitic —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I hear you. 

Q    — comments.  That they accuse —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And we’re going to always denounce —

Q    — Israel of genocide.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  We’re always going to denounce antisemitism.  But at the same time, people have the right to peacefully protest. 

But we, in this administration, are going to always denounce antisemitism, any form of hate — any form of hate.  Whether it’s against the Jewish community — right? — antisemitism, against the Muslim community, Arab American community, or the Palestin- — we are going to denounce any form of hate that comes towards those communities.

As it relates to protests — peaceful protests, people have the right to do that.  But this is an administration, obviously, obviously, that’s going to be very forceful and very clear about denouncing antisemitism. 

Go ahead, Phil.

Q    A new Harvard/Harris poll just came out which showed that a slim majority, 51 percent, of 18- to 24-year-olds in United States think that the violence in Israel can be justified by the grievance of Palestinians. 

I know that you’ve been unequivocal in saying that the President is going to denounce antisemitism.  And —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  And he has.

Q    And he has. 

Is there anything in particular that the administration is planning to do to take this argument to those college students or the — those younger generations who seem to be open to the idea that there are two sides to this thing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I don’t have anything to lay out on any specific conversations or outreach that the President is going to do to students.

As you know, we have an Office of Public Engagement here.  We have other offices here at the White House that is constantly engaging with — with communities, incu- — including the young community.  I just don’t have anything specifics to your question on the President’s schedule to do that.  

Q    Can I follow up?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I’m going to see who I have not called on.  Jacqui, I’ve called on you. 

Go ahead, way in the back. 

Q    Karine, when it comes to these different wars, Admiral Kirby made it clear — deterrence — right?  Send these strike groups to the Mediterranean so that no one else gets involved.  But it seems like our deterrence in Russia did not work.  Our deterrence with North Korea building up its stockpile didn’t work.  Now, here in the Middle East, our deterrence hasn’t worked.  What are we doing to make our deterrence actually have teeth?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, I would — look, in Ukraine — specifically, as you mentioned, with Russia — remember, the first days of that — of that war or of that invasion, Russia was supposed to take down and — and take over Kyiv.  And it is because of what this President was able to do to bring together more than 50 nations — our allies and partners — and also to — to continue to — to provide the assistance that Ukraine has been — that has now to — to fight off — right? — to fight off what’s going on in their country that they’ve been in- — it’s been impressive.  You’ve all have reported how impressive that the Ukrainian people have been. 

And so, that is going to continue.  That is — continue to support to Ukraine.  That’s why we put forth the supplemental — the supplemental request last week to — hopefully to continue to give those security assistance to — to Ukraine.

And, look, as we — as it relates to Israel, the Admiral spoke to that, on what — we’re trying to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.  And we’re going to continue. 

And let’s not forget the humanitarian aid that has to go into Gaza.  And that is something — remember the President — and the Admiral said this.  The President went to Israel, had the conversation with the Prime Minister, also had conversation with President Sisi, and look what we’ve — he’s been able to do.  We’ve seen multiple convoys go in and provide the humanitarian aid. 

Look, we are going to continue — as the Commander-in-Chief, leader of the free world, of course the President is going to make sure that we are there for our partners and allies.  That will continue.  That will not end.  And — and that’s what you’re seeing the President do every day. 

Go ahead.

Q    I guess I just want to follow up.  I understand you’re saying that he’s rallied the troops and brought allies together.  And that all makes sense.  But I guess, again, the origin of my question was: Why aren’t we doing a better job preventing these wars in the first place? 

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  What we are doing — and Admiral spoke to this.  Of course — as he talked about the Middle East.  And, of course, our — our goal has always been a prosperous Middle East, a peaceful Middle East. 

He — he literally went into speaking about what the goal has been and what we’re going to continue to do: make sure that there is peace — right? — make sure that we — we bring our allies and partners together.  That doesn’t stop. 

But at the same time — right? — if Russia is going to invade — invade Ukraine, we have to be there for Ukraine — right? — taking over — trying to take over their sovereignty, their democracy.  We have to be there, right? 

If — we have to be there for Israel as they’re tr- — as they fight — fighting off a terrorist organization, right?  Innocent people are being killed.  And so, the President is going to be there for that. 

And so, look, we’re — it doesn’t stop us — deter us from what we’re trying to do more broadly in having these diplomatic conversation. 

You saw, as I mentioned to one of your colleagues, Austr- — Australia is coming.  We’re going to continue that conversation on how we’re going to help Ukraine and continue to be partners and allies. 

But, look, we’re going to do the job that is at hand.  That’s what the President is focused on. 

Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  We haven’t — really, in this briefing, we’ve been mainly covering foreign policy.  The President’s event that he has coming up, which is on a domestic investment part of his agenda — does the President see any frustration in the fact that so much of the attention is on foreign policy that the domestic agenda is sort of less in the news on a day-to-day basis, particularly with what’s going on in the Middle East?  Or is it — or is that just the reality of where — of the way the world is?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I — I mean, it is the reality of where we are and what’s being reported by all of you, right?  It’s just the reality of where we are.

Look, the — but it doesn’t stop the President, like you said for today — right? — making announcements that’s important to the American people.  Right?  The American people want us to see them delivering — whether it’s the economy, whether it’s healthcare — whatever issues that — that is important to them. 

And so, part — the President is going to make a big announcement in a couple of minutes that you all have reported — actually has gotten great coverage on what he’s trying to do and will be announcing today. 

And, look, you know, it doesn’t stop the President from doing the job that he has to do every day.  And you’ve seen him do that.  Whether it’s foreign policy, whether it’s domestic issues, we try to hit that every day.  And you hear the President talking about that every day.

There are incredibly important issues that are top of mind for Americans that the President is not going to — not going to stop talking about. 

And as you all know, the President has multiple things to do all at once.  And that’s what you’re going to see him do today.  And that’s what you’re going to see him do on Wednesday when he welcomes the Australian Prime Minister.  And that’s what you saw him do last week when he went to Israel, and not just that — had conversation with the President of Egypt — right? — to make sure that things are moving forward and making sure that we’re getting that humanitarian aid into Gaza.  None of that stops.  None of that stops. 

I think I have to go.  All right.  Thanks, everybody.  We’ll see you tomorrow. 

Q    Thank you, Karine.

Q    Will he speak to Israel at this event?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  You’ll have to watch.

2:16 P.M. EDT 

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