James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:30 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Let’s give folks a couple of seconds to settle in.
All right, everyone. Good afternoon.
Q Good afternoon.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, we have seen an alarming rise in reported antisemitic incidents at schools and on college campuses.
There is no place for hate in America, and we condemn any antisemitic threat or incident in the strongest — in the strongest terms. We’re also closely monitoring and concerned by the reports of antisemitic threats at Cornell University.
To the students at Cornell and on campuses across the country: We’re tracking these threats closely, we’re thinking of you, and we’re going to do everything we can on both — at Cornell and across the country to counter — to counter terrorism — antisemitism.
Today, we announced that the Biden-Harris administration is taking multiple actions to address this alarming rise. President Biden has been clear: We can’t stand by and stand silent in the face of hate. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.
Following the October 7th attack on Israel, DHS and DOJ have taken steps to ensure campus law enforcement is included in engagements with state and local law enforcement and have taken numerous steps to provide outreach and support directly to campuses.
The Department of Education is ex- — expediting the process of making it easier for students and others who experience antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other discrimination to file a complaint under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In addition, this week, senior administration officials are meeting with Jewish leaders and universities to discuss the threat of antisemitism on campuses and what the administration is doing to act. In the coming — in the upcoming days and weeks, the administration will continue to work to combat antisemitism and all hate-fueled violence on schools and also on college campuses.
Turning to the announcement that the President just made a short time ago.
Following the President’s signing of his historic executive order on AI, Vice President Harris will travel to the United Kingdom to advance the administration’s work to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI.
On Wednesday, the Vice President will travel — will deliver a major speech in London outlining the Bi- — Biden-Harris administration’s vision for the future of AI and the steps we are taking to realize that vision.
On Thursday, she will continue advocating for this approach and will participate in the Global Summit
at [on] AI Safety, where she will make clear the United States is committed to lead on AI.
She will also meet with Prime Minister Sunak in London and other leaders to continue our close consultations on the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
And finally, a new feature in the briefing room over the next few weeks: We’re going to be putting a spotlight on the first 10 drugs selected to price negotiations through Medicare thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. And for 10 days, we’ll talk about how lowering costs for each of these drugs will lower costs and also save lives.
First up is Eliquis, a drug used to treat blood clots that nearly 3.5 million Medicare recipients took last year. In 2022, in that year alone, Medicare Part D enrollees spent over $1.5 billion in out-of-pocket costs on this drug.
And at the same time, Big Pharma made record profits. Manufacturers of the drug executed more than $97 billion in stock
paybacks [buybacks] and spent over $172 million on lobbying since the drug was launched.
President Biden and congressional Democrats took on Big Pharma and won so seniors don’t have to choose between healthcare and other basic needs.
For example, a senior from Texas — her name is Myra — wrote to President Biden and said bringing down the cost of Eliquis below the $700 her family pays could mean that her husband can finally fill his prescriptions without having to worry about whether they can pay rent.
And because of the Inflation Reduction Act, millions of people will see lower prescription drug costs.
Now, before I turn it over to Admiral John Kirby, who is going to give us an update on what’s going on in — in the Middle East, I wanted to say “welcome back” to Zeke, and congratulations on your baby boy. It’s good to have you back in the briefing room. It’s been too long.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And with that, Admiral Kirby.
MR. KIRBY: Thank you.
MR. KIRBY: Obviously, it goes without saying that we continue to closely monitor events in the Middle East and the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Of course, the President remains continually briefed. He was briefed throughout the weekend and, of course, again this morning.
And as I think you know, he spent some time yesterday on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Sisi of Egypt.
In the call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, he did receive a commitment that the Israelis will endeavor to support a significant increase in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
So, additional trucks — and we had 45 or so get in yesterday. We’re hoping that we can get some more in — in today. But, obviously, even with the increase, it’s going to take time to make up the difference.
And we know there’s an awful lot that needs to — that needs to happen to — to keep — to accelerate and to increase that flow of aid.
For our part, we continue to meet with regional partners, including — I think, as you know, the Saudi defense minister, Khalid bin Salman, is here. He’s going to meet with Jake — in fact, I think that meeting is going on right now — to discuss the latest in the region and ongoing efforts to prevent the conflict from widening.
You all heard the President and Jake be very clear about this. Our message to any actor seeking to exploit this conflict is: Don’t do it. And as you all know, we have strengthened our force posture in the region. We’re continually watching to make sure that any actor who might be tempted to jump in here knows that we will take very seriously our national security interests in the region, not to mention our obligation to protect our troops and our facilities that are going after ISIS in places like Iraq and Syria.
And I just want to add just one little thought here on top of Karine’s excellent comments on antisemitism. I think you all saw what happened in Dagestan, Russia, yesterday in what can only be described as a chilling demonstration of hate, bigotry, intimidation.
Some people have compared it to the pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th century. And I think that’s probably an apt description, given — given that video that we’ve seen out there.
State — or, sorry, local provincial officials certainly came out pretty swift to condemn this mob. And I heard, within the last hour or so, apparently, Mr. Putin has decided to have some sort of meeting with his security officials. But outside of that, we’ve heard crickets from the Kremlin. Nothing. No condemnation. No calling for a stoppage of hate, discrimination, and bigotry towards Jews. Nothing. And I think that speaks volumes.
And the same goes, you know, for here in the country. Karine talked about what’s going on on college campuses. But the same goes for Islamophobia. There’s no place for that in the country. It must be condemned equally as strong. And — and we all need to work with might and main to stop that kind of hate as well.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Zeke.
(A cellphone rings.)
Q Thank you, John. Over — over the weekend, we saw the —
MR. KIRBY: I think that is, like, the coolest ringtone. (Laughter.) I am a NASCAR fan, so, like, that — (laughter) — you’ve got to tell me where you got that, man, because that is — that is —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a first.
MR. KIRBY: That is freaking amazing.
Q So, over the weekend, we saw the stepped-up Israel ground offensive in Gaza. Does the U.S., at this point, consider that a — the President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. Does he consider it an invasion of Gaza at this point? And does the U.S. — what is the U.S. assessment right now of the Israel objective in Gaza — military objective there? And does the U.S. believe that eradicating Hamas militarily is achievable?
MR. KIRBY: There’s a lot there. I’ll let the Israelis characterize their ground operations. We’re not going to slap bumper stickers on it here from the podium. They can speak to — and they did. They had a press briefing today. Defense Minister Gallant talked about what they’re doing. And by all accounts, it appears that what they’re trying to do is really put a lot more pressure on Hamas leaders.
And when you’re trying to go after the leadership of an organization, as we well know from our own experience against ISIS and against al Qaeda, putting that pressure — you — you have to be able to apply a discrete amount of force. And that’s easier to apply with soldiers than it is to apply from — just from the air.
So, that’s what they have described what they’re doing. And I think I’ll leave it to them.
Now, as for your question — can you — can you “defeat them,” I think is how you put it — again, you got to be careful with analogies. But what we have, I think, demonstrated to a fare-thee-well is that you can decapitate a terrorist organization, you can decimate their capabilities, you can render them a lot less effective — you’re probably never going to get rid of the ideology that — that backs them up and allows them to recruit and to resource.
But look at ISIS right now. It’s a shadow of itself. Remember, they were storming across Iraq and Syria with this big caliphate that they wanted to govern. It’s a shadow of its former self. Still a viable threat, which is why we have some troops on the ground. But it’s nowhere near the threat that it once was.
And al Qaeda, the same thing. You can say that their most recent intelligence community report analysis that they — they have been rendered completely ineffective in places like Afghanistan. Doesn’t mean that the — there aren’t offshoots. Doesn’t mean that they — they don’t try to morph and — and change into something else.
But we think that you can, in fact, have a tremendous impact on — on a terrorist organization’s leadership, their resourcing, their capabilities, their ability to recruit, their ability to operate. Doesn’t mean it all goes away. But you can.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Trevor.
Q Two questions for you. First of all, does the White House have a view on this idea of leasing or otherwise obtaining Egyptian territory in the Sinai Peninsula for Palestinian refugees to stay on a temporary basis?
MR. KIRBY: I think right now, Trevor, the focus is on seeing if we can get safe passage out. And, obviously, should we be able to secure that, we would — we would have conversations with — with partners in the region, including Egypt, about what the capacity would be to provide some sort of temporary susistence — subsistence capability for — for the families wanting to get out of Gaza.
Our sense is that they — they want to go back home. Many of them want to leave now, of course — and that’s understandable — but there’s not a desire to — by many, at least from our sense of it, that want to flee forever and go somewhere else in the world. So, at some point, you got to start thinking through what that’s going to look like. And I just don’t know that we’ve had any solid answers to that right now.
Q And did that come up on the Sisi call with Biden yesterday?
MR. KIRBY: I won’t go beyond the readout on the call.
Q Okay. And then, related to that: Rafah Crossing — any new — any updates on getting people out through that corridor?
MR. KIRBY: Unfortunately, no. I mean, but as you heard Jake say yesterday in a var- — various set of interviews that he did, we’re working on this literally by the hour to try to do that. We know we have several hundred Americans that want to get out too, and we’re working on it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Mary.
Q Admiral, you mentioned Putin’s response or lack of response to this antisemitic mob at the airport. But his spokesman reportedly said that yesterday’s events were largely the result of outside interference, and that the security meeting is, in part, to discuss attempts by the West to use the events in the Middle East to divide the Russian society.
MR. KIRBY: Well, isn’t that sweet? (Laughter.) It’s classic Russian rhetoric, isn’t it? When something goes, like, bad in your country, you just blame somebody else. Blame it on outside influences.
The West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry, and intimidation, pure and simple.
And a good leader, a decent leader would call it out for what it is, the way President Biden has called it out here in this country, instead of blaming the West for — for something and pushing — pushing it off to somebody else.
Q And as the IDF enters this, sort of, next phase of this conflict — you know, the President, again, urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to act in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law. Does the President still feel — or does he feel that Israel is abiding by the rules of war?
MR. KIRBY: Without getting into reacting to events on the ground in real time, which we’re just not going to do — this is a conversation we consistently have — have had with our Israeli counterparts.
And as you rightly note, it — it was part of the discussion yesterday with — with the Prime Minister. And you heard the Prime Minister today speaking in Tel Aviv about the efforts that they’re undertaking to try to avoid civilian casualties.
And — and I think that they certainly are making that effort. It doesn’t mean that there — there haven’t been civilian casualties. Tragically, there have been many — thousands of them.
But — but unlike Putin in Ukraine and unlike what Hamas did on October 7th, killing civilians is not a war aim of the Israeli Defense Forces. Their war aim is to go after Hamas terrorists.
Q But if the President is —
MR. KIRBY: Terrorists, I might add — terrorists, I might add, that are using innocent Palestinians as human shields.
Q But is the President concerned that Israel is going to break the rules of war? And if not, why does the President feel the need to repeatedly bring this up in, it seems, every conversation that he has with him?
MR. KIRBY: Because it’s something that even the Prime Minister brings up in the conversations. That it is in — they both recognize that, as democracies, it’s important to abide by the law of war and to protect innocent life and to — and to try to minimize civilian casualties.
It’s not a — it’s not a — it’s not a lecturing. It’s a reminder from two leaders of two vibrant democracies that this is what separates us from folks like Hamas.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nadia.
Q Thank you. I’m here, John. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said that we should not be numb to the suffering of Palestinians, whether it’s their journalists, ordinary people, or aid workers. The number now is 53. Every time we sit here, the number goes up.
And also the Save the Children funds said that the number of children who was killed in Gaza is more than the whole (inaudible) conflict since 2019. So, why do you think you message — you keep saying that we don’t want civilians to die and you, sort of, ask Israel to exercise restraint and to abide by international law. Why do you think your message is not getting through to the people in the Middle East? They actually — basically, they don’t believe that the U.S. is doing enough to protect civilians.
MR. KIRBY: Well, back to Mary’s question, it — there’s not a single conversation we haven’t had with our Israeli counterparts to better understand what they’re doing to try to minimize civilian casualties — and, again, as friends can and friends should do with one another — to make sure that we’re on the same page about that.
And the United States is literally leading the effort to try to get humanitarian assistance into — to Gaza. And if it wasn’t, quite frankly, for American leadership, I don’t think you’d see — in fact, I know you wouldn’t see the increase of the aid getting in.
Again, we know there’s a lot more that needs to be done, but it’s because of American leadership on the ground and American convening power that we’re able to get that aid in and try to see if we can sustain it. We’re working very hard at this.
Every — I just want — I want to repeat it. Every single innocent life lost is a tragedy. Every one. Whether it’s a Palestinian life lost or an Israeli life lost, every one should be prevented. There’s no reason for these families to keep grieving. And we’re going to keep doing everything we can to work with our Israeli counterparts on the — on the minimization of — of civilian casualties.
Q Just one more quickly on the meeting with the defense minister — Saudi Defense Minister. Yesterday, Jake Sullivan said that we should talk about the future two-state solution. Do you believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu — who had publicly said he’s against two-state solution — that actually this is something that you can discuss as we — we go forward and you’re looking for a political outcome?
MR. KIRBY: Yeah. We — we’ve discussed it privately with our Israeli counterparts. And you heard the President in the Rose Garden last week talk about it publicly right at the top of his press conference. It’s absolutely something he’s 100 percent committed to, and he still believes in the promise of it. Though it may seem a little bit more illusory now, we still believe it’s the right thing to do for the region, for the world, certainly for the Palestinian people.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, April.
Q For both of you or for John: You have a historic coupling — with DHS, DOJ, Department of Ed — with this civil rights law when it comes to antisemitism and Islamophobia on these college campuses. Because of this historic coupling, will there be stiffer penalties now? I’m talking about the penalty part for those who are carrying out “hate and terror,” as Karine said in her opening statement.
MR. KIRBY: April, I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that question. I — that — that’s a little bit out of my swim lane, I’m afraid.
Q But is it —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s going to be up to — that’s going to be up to DOJ.
Q But — but you went beyond just hate. You went into terrorism.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, tied to antisemitism, right? That’s what I was talking about. And also Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. So, look, that’s going to be something that DOJ is going to decide on, right? This is — we’re talking about Title VI under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, right? That’s what we’re saying that people — as they — as they deal with what’s happening in these campuses, that’s kind of the path that we’re going to try and deal with this.
Again, DOJ — the Department of Justice — is going to deal with the penalties and — and how they move forward on that. We’re just not going to speak to that from here.
Q It’s gone beyond hate, though, to terrorism. Terrorism —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I — what I was saying —
Q — can take it to whole (inaudible) —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — antisemitism — right? — this — it is unacceptable. That is — that is what we’ve been seeing in these college campuses. And that’s what I was referring to. Okay?
All right. Gabe, go ahead.
Q Admiral, I’m sure you saw the number of pro-Palestinian rallies around the world throughout this weekend. How concerned is the White House that these demonstrations will spiral out of control?
MR. KIRBY: As you know, we believe in the right of peaceful protest, even if it’s, you know, espousing ideas we don’t agree with.
But it — we don’t — nobody wants to see peaceful protests turn violent or turn dangerous the way that this mob activity did in Dagestan yesterday.
So, it’s of concern, and it’s something that we’ll continue to talk about with our — with our allies and partners.
Q You mentioned also no update to the Rafah Crossing negotiations.
MR. KIRBY: Yeah.
Q At last check, the administration is saying that Hamas was holding that up. Is that still the case? Is — what can you say with what exactly is holding up those negotiations as American families wait to see —
MR. KIRBY: Yeah.
Q — when those Americans are released?
MR. KIRBY: It — it is still the case. They’ve been making a series of demands that we’re not able to accede to. I know you’d like to know what those are, but I think in order to try to make some progress here, we’re going to preserve a little bit of that publicly.
But, yes, Hamas —
Q Is it —
MR. KIRBY: — is still the holdup. Israel was willing to let those Americans out. Egypt is willing to let them come out. The holdup is Hamas.
Q Would you say the biggest sticking point is fuel at this point still?
MR. KIRBY: Again, I — I won’t get into more detail than that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead,
Q Thanks, Admiral. We saw it today the — a renewal of fighting between Saudi forces and Houthis. The Saudis also said they intercepted a rocket that flew over their territory toward Israel. Are you seeing this activity, in addition to what’s been going on with Hezbollah in the north of Israel, as, you know, Iran directing their proxies to ramp things up now that the ground offensive is underway?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t think we know enough about these recent attacks that you’re talking about to — to make a call here.
Obviously, the Houthis have been backed and supported by Iran, but I can’t tell you with any specificity whether they were specifically involved in directing these.
I want to make it clear before anybody suggests that I am somehow walking away from complicity by Iran: We know that they back and support and resource the Houthis. Same with Hamas. Same with Hezbollah. Same with these militia groups in Iraq and Syria.
We’ve not backed away or shied away from calling it like we see it, but with these particular reports, I — I couldn’t be certain.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thank you. So, on Friday, the U.N. General Assembly called for a humanitarian truce. One hundred and twenty countries voted for it; The United States voted against it. The death toll in Rus- — in Gaza keeps rising. Is the U.S. at any point calling for a humanitarian ceasefire?
MR. KIRBY: We — we do not believe that a ceasefire is the right answer right now. We believe that a ceasefire right now benefits Hamas, and Hamas is the only one that would gain from that right now as — as Israel continues to — to prosecute their operations against Hamas leadership.
What we have said should be considered and explored are temporary localized humanitarian pauses to allow aid to get to specific populations and maybe even to help with the evacuation of people that want to get out, move more to the south. We do support that. We do not support a ceasefire at this time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Are you afraid of being isolated in this? I mean, of being at odds with the international community?
MR. KIRBY: I will let other nations speak for their prerogatives on this. President Biden has been crystal clear about where we are on this. It’s about making sure Israel has what it needs to continue to defend itself and to go after these Hamas leaders. It’s about making sure humanitarian assistance can get in to the hundreds of thousands of people that — that need it. And it’s about trying to find and get out hostages that Hamas is holding. Those are the three things we’re focused on.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, MJ.
Q John, as you continue to see U.S. military assets targeted in Iraq and Syria, can you say whether the concern about this war broadening out into a greater regional conflict — is it greater now than, say, a week ago?
MR. KIRBY: I don’t know that I’d put a percentage on it, MJ. We’re deeply concerned about that potential, which is why we have done everything we can to send a strong signal of deterrence to prevent that.
In fact, if you just look at the decisions the President has made, they’re all designed to prevent a deepening conflict, a widening conflict — any — any kind of escalation.
The force posture that we’ve added to the region, the conversations that he continues to have with world leaders, certainly, there in the region — everything we’re doing is to try to prevent that. But it is — it is — it is still of concern.
Q And can you say whether there’s any kind of assessment at this point on the video that was released by Hamas just earlier today featuring three women who appear to be held hostage by Hamas?
MR. KIRBY: I’m not able to — we’re not able to independently verify the authenticity of those videos. We’re also not in a position to refute their authenticity.
It’s beyond reprehensible that Hamas would put these videos out there like that. I guess, on one hand, for the families, that — I suspect that, you know, it would at least answer a question about their loved ones. But — but I can’t imagine the added anguish and pain that it causes them to see their — their loved ones in such a state.
But it’s reprehensible that they would do that.
Q And — and there remains no, sort of, proof-of-life video featuring American citizens, as far as U.S. officials are concerned?
MR. KIRBY: Not that I’m aware of.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Sabrina.
Q A question and a follow-up. First, can you confirm reports that the U.S. believes Israel took steps over the weekend to shut down Gaza’s phone and Internet communications and that it was the U.S. that convinced Israel to reverse those measures?
MR. KIRBY: I will just tell you that we’re glad to see that the Internet connectivity was restored.
Q And, you know, I wanted — for 34 hours, the majority of Palestinians in Gaza had no way of reaching each other or the outside world. Emergency phone lines were down. The New York Times says paramedics were left driving toward the sound of explosions, and people were left to die in the street. What is your response to that? Is that upholding the laws of war?
MR. KIRBY: This is why we were glad to see the Inter- — Internet connectivity restored, so that first responders could do their job, so that journalists could do their job, so that more information could — could pass through the hands of — of innocent people in Gaza who want information about where to go, where not to go.
I mean, we’re glad to see that that — that got restored.
And, yes, we were part of the conversations that — that led to that restoration.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Phil.
Q Thank you. I’ve got one question and then a quick follow-up. Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkey after the Turkish Prime Minister said that Hamas is a liberation group and called Israel a war criminal. What is the President’s response to that kind of rhetoric from an ally?
MR. KIRBY: Well, we’ll certainly let President Erdoğan speak to his comments. We don’t have to agree with everything he says on every issue to still maintain the fact that he is an important NATO Ally and — and has had a very positive influence, particularly on, like, the Black Sea grain and trying to help get that out there. But we do not associate ourselves with — with those comments.
Q And then you were asked about a two-state solution, and you noted that the administration has had consistent conversations with Israeli counterparts towards that end. Has the administration had similar conversations with Palestinian leaders? Are there any Palestinian leaders or groups that the White House has identified who would be constructive in those types of talks?
MR. KIRBY: We absolutely have, particularly with President Abbas. In fact, when we took office, there had been almost no relationship with Pales- — the Palestinian Authority by the previous administration, and we worked hard to restore that relationship and to try to get those conversations going.
So, yes, we absolutely have.
Q So, that’s — the President Hama- — Abbas is the one that the administration would like to see the Is- — Israelis negotiate with at a future date?
MR. KIRBY: We’re not at a point right now on negotiating over a two-state solution. So, I think you — I think you got the — you got the cart way in front of the horse right now for where we are. But we have had conversations with Palestinian officials, including President Abbas, at President Biden’s level about the need to continue to pursue a two-state solution.
Q Thank you, sir.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. We have to wrap up. Go ahead.
Q Thank you so much. I know you said the President got the commitment from Israel that they would, like, allow a significant increase of aid to come into Gaza. Can you be more specific? What — you know, how many trucks are we talking? What would be an appropriate amount of — of aid or trucks, according to the White House?
MR. KIRBY: Well, I think this first phase that we talked to the Israelis about is trying to get it up to about a hundred a day. But that’s a — that’s a first goal. We know that that — even that, which is a dramatic improvement over where we are right now, is still not going to be enough.
So, we’re not going to let it go. We’re not going to drop it. We’re going to continue to try — to see what we can do to — to increase that volume.
But, initially, it’s about a hundred a day. And, you know, with a lot of hard work and — and — and continuing to build on issues of trust and verif- — you know, being able to verify what’s in these trucks, you know, we’re — we’re confident that we can get there in coming days.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: All right. James, in the back, you have the last question.
Q That’s very kind. Thank you very much. Two questions. First, on the hostages. More than three weeks have passed now since the original Hamas attack and the seizure of hostages. How many Americans have you confirmed in that time are actually hostages?
MR. KIRBY: Less than 10.
Q That’s not a number. I want a number from you.
MR. KIRBY: Less than 10.
Q Why can’t you give a number?
MR. KIRBY: James, I’ve given you an answer. What’s your next question?
Q You’ve given an answer. You haven’t been responsive. Let the record show.
The other question has to do with Israeli war aims. The Israelis have said that their objective — and they’ve been very explicit about it — is to destroy Hamas.
From you and other administration officials, we hear that the objective is to ensure that Hamas can never terrorize Israel again. Those are two different objectives.
Are you having a problem with the Israelis in terms of a clear communication here of their objectives? Or have their objectives, to your eyes and ears, appeared to change over time?
MR. KIRBY: No. And no.
Q So, how does — how does — does the United States support the goal of destroying Hamas?
MR. KIRBY: We support what Israel is trying to do to protect their citizens from the threat of Hamas.
And, James, I think you know this: We aren’t on the ground fighting in this war. There’s no intent to do that. This is — these are Israeli military operations. They get to decide what their aims and strategy are. They get to decide what their tactics are. They get to decide how they’re going to go after Hamas.
We’re doing everything we can to support them — including providing our perspectives, including asking them hard questions about their aims and their strategy and — the kind of questions we’d ask ourselves. But the question you asked me is a question better put to the Israeli Defense Forces.
Q Thanks, Admiral.
Q Thank you.
Q Thanks, John.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Admiral.
We just — because of the events happening on the South Lawn, we don’t have that much time.
Zeke, you just want to —
Q Thanks. The new Speaker plans to move forward with a — and House Republicans plan to move forward with a funding bill to provide some (inaudible) assistance to Israel this week. They’re seeking spending offsets. That’s also moving to decouple that from Ukraine and — and the other supplemental requests from the administration. What’s the White House position on that? Would the White House — would the President sign a Israel-only supplemental request, or is the White House still insisting that they all move together?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, just — I do want to do a little bit of a lay down here, because this is incredibly important.
When you think about Hamas and you think about Putin, they represent different threats, right? And — but both want to annihilate a neighboring democracy. And we’ve been very clear about that. And so, we can’t afford to let that happen. And that’s what we’ve been very clear about.
So, making sure both Israel and also Ukraine succeed in their fights for democracy against terrorism and tyranny, it is vital. It is vital to America’s own national security.
So, we must help — we must help innocent civilians devastated by Putin’s war in Ukraine and the conflict Israel — in — between Israel and Hamas, including by providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance in Gaza. That is important as well.
And there is a bipartisan consensus. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen the bipartisan consensus in the Senate. You have heard me say how the director of OMB and also our Office of Leg Affairs have been giving — giving briefings in a bipartisan way to — to members of both the Senate and the House. And it is important.
We — you know, we see a strong majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate, as I just mentioned, who both have been very vocal on the record. Just last week, I listed out a bunch of — a bunch of House members — a few House members and senators and quoting them and saying what they have said on the record in supporting — in supporting both Ukraine and Israel — Is- — Israel supplemental — this urgent national security need. And so, that’s what we want to see.
There’s no reason — there’s no reason why that should not happen. There’s no reason why we, as America — United States of America — cannot make — make sure that Israel and also Ukraine has the funding that they need.
Q And is the President open to considering any spending offsets for that funding?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m certainly not going to get into hypotheticals from here. But what I can say is —
Q I mean, it’s not a hypothetical. House Republicans are —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well —
Q — calling for that right now.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I — no, I understand that. I hear you. What we’ve been very clear about is that we want to see both move forward. We want to see both of the requests that we’ve made in the supplemental for national security, we — we want to see both move forward because it is vital — vital as those two countries are farghting — fighting for their democracies.
Q But with spending offsets, is that — is that on the table?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I — look, these are emergency funding requests, right? We’ve been very clear about that. Like other emergency funding — funding that Congress has passed with bipartisan support, they do not require offsets. They just don’t. They don’t require offset — what we suggest and what we asked for — because they are emergency requests.
Q Don’t require them, but if — if House Republicans want to have that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I —
Q — is the President open to considering it?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I am — I am telling you that they don’t require offset. These are emergency — emergency requests. That’s — that’s h- — that’s not how it goes.
Nancy, I haven’t called on you.
Q Thanks, Karine. I want to ask you about the new executive actions that the administration is taking place in response to antisemitic threats. You know, I saw the — the list the DOJ involved, Homeland Security involved, CISA involved. Given the skyrocketing number of threats, is all of that going to be enough?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been very clear: The President has been very, very focused — not just now, but since the beginning of his administration — on dealing with — and unequivocal, right? — when it t- — when we talk about hate and there not being room for hate against Jews, not being room for hate against Muslims. And this is something that the President has been certainly steadfast on.
Look, the announcement that we make — we made, we’re going to have DOJ and other agencies certainly be part of this, have conversations with the campuses and — and universities, and to see what else — this is the beginning — to see what else — maybe there will be — there’ll be other things that are needed.
But this is how the President is showing how important this is, how critical this is, and how we have to take this very seriously.
Just to list out a couple of things: The Second Gentleman today, as well as the Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, and other Biden-Harris administration officials will discuss action in Biden administrat- — Biden-Harris administration is taking to counter the alarming uptick in reported is- — insists — instances of antisemitism. So, they’re going to have those conversations with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. That’s important.
We’re going to continue to have other conversations here on the senior level as well. Later this week, you have Secretary Cardona and Domestic Policy Advi- — Advisor Neera Tanden will attend a site visit at university and hold a roundtable with Jewish students.
And in recent weeks, the Department of Education has conducted site visits in San Francisco, in St. Louis, and in Maine to address and learn more about the antisemitism at schools and college campuses.
And so, that — we’re going to continue to hear directly from — from these Jewish organizations. We want — I said at the top if folks have concern, we — I’ve listed out how they should be able to flag those concerns for us.
And so, the — and we believe what we announced just today is g- — is incredibly important. It’s just a first step. And there is no place for antiset- — -semitism. There is no place for it.
Q And does the White House believe that college administrators are doing enough to deal with this problem?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is for them to speak to. Honestly, what we have been very [un]equivocal about: Antisemitism has no place — has no place in this country. No — there’s no hate –there’s no place or no room for hate. We’ve been very, very clear about that. I would refer you to them to speak to what they’re doing on campuses.
Q Okay. And this just recently happened, so you may not have any information about it yet. But there was an individual who was arrested for making antisemitic threats against a U.S. senator. Do you have any information about that or —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is the first time I’m hearing of it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Obviously, we’re going to condemn any — any form of hate, including antisemitism, including hate against Muslim community, Islamophobia. We’ve been very clear about that. We will denounce any form of hate, any form of violence, and we’ll continue to do that from here.
I’ve just not — haven’t heard — I’ve not heard — this the first time I’m hearing about that particular incident.
Q Thank you, Karine. Does President Biden think the anti-Israel protesters in this country are extremists?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is what — we’ve been very clear about this: When it comes to antisemitism, there is no place. We have to make sure that we speak against it very loud and be — and be very clear about that.
Remember, what the President decided — when the President decided to run for president is what he saw in Charlottesville in 2017, when we — he saw neo-Nazis marching down the streets of Charlottesville with vile, antisemitic — just hatred.
And he was very clear then, and he’s very clear now. He’s taken actions against this over the past two years. And he’s continued to be clear: There is no place — no place for this type of vile and despite — despite — this kind of rhetoric.
Q But we hear you guys, though, talk about “extremists” all the time. It is usually about “MAGA extremists.” So, what about these protesters who are making Jewish students —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have been very, very clear —
Q — feel unsafe on college campuses? Are they extremists?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have been very, very clear: We are calling out any form of hate — any form of hate. It is not acceptable. It should not be acceptable here. And we are going to continue to call that out.
And let — and let me be very clear: This is a president that has continued to have that fight in his office, in this administration. You know, when he repealed Trump’s Muslim ban, on his very — in first — first day in office, that is something that this president did.
He also established an inter-policy committee to counter Islamophobia, antis- — antisemitism, and related forms of bias and discrimination.
We’ve taken this very, very, very seriously, from the President all the way on down.
Q Does President Biden look at these anti-Israel protests on college campuses and think, “It’s nice to see that the country’s youth are so involved”? Or does he think, “The next generation is doomed”?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Here’s the thing, there’s no place for hate in America.
Q But I’m curious what he thinks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no. I’m — I’m telling you: There’s no place for hate in America. And we condemn any antisemit- — -semitic threat or incident in the strongest terms. And you heard me say at the top: We — I gave a message to students who are feeling — who are feeling under threat right now, right? You know, we’re tracking these threats very closely. We are there for them. No student should have to be able to go to class, live on campus in fear.
And, you know, these incidents — these reported antisemitic incidents at schools and on campuses, that should not be. We have to condemn them. We have to condemn them.
AIDE: Karine, it’s 4:10.
Q Thanks, Karine. Can you tell us more about the President’s meeting with lawmakers on AI tomorrow that he alluded to in his remarks? Who will be in attendance? I know Senator Schumer will be one. And what exactly is going to be on the agenda? Like, is he recommending pieces of legislation they should pass?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, yes, as you — as you know, the President sound this — signed this executive order, and it is a — it is the — a comprehensive executive order that the President was able to sign today. You saw him do that on camera.
And the thing about that is it not only shows his leadership here in this country, but globally.
And you’re going to see the Vice President, obviously, go to the United Kingdom to speak — to make a very major — a major speech at — at the Global Summit.
So, the President’s going to have conversations with members of Congress as they move forward — you heard from Senator Schumer just now — as they move forward in pushing legislation to deal with AI.
And we believe this is an important step forward. What the President did today was just the first step. And it is comprehensive. It’s something that we have not seen any global leader do.
And now we need Congress to take action to actually take legislation so we can actually put some laws into place. And so, I’m not going to get into specifics on the agenda.
I don’t have anything to re- — we don’t have anything to read out on the meet- — on any meeting.
But the President, again, is going to lead on this effort as he — as you saw him today and as he do- — as he’s done in the past several months.
We have to wrap up.
Q Also on AI, is the White House experimenting or using AI in any way right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have any — anything to report on — on the White House experimenting ourselves with AI. I don’t have anything on that.
Q You’re not AI? You’re the real deal, right?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t know. (Laughter.)
Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. The administration is withholding over $7 million from MOHELA, the loan servicer, after they failed to send billing statements out to 2 and a half million student loan borrowers, and there were 800,000 borrowers who were delinquent, then, on their loans because of these glitches. How concerned is the administration about these problems persisting as the student loan repayment continues? And do you know how many millions of Americans might be caught up with some of these errors right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, that’s a very good question. I don’t have the number of how many — we don’t have a number right now to share on how many Americans are — or borrowers — student borrowers are being affected by the glitches.
Obviously, this is something that we take very seriously. This is something that Department of Education is dealing with. As we speak to the glitches, just don’t have any specific numbers.
Q And if I can ask quickly — I asked you about this in July, because Republican and Democratic senators had warned about this mid-summer. They sent a loan to some of these service providers — or sent a letter to the loan servicers saying that they were going to be poorly prepared for the restart, and they were worried about problems like this. Why are these issues happening? Was this surprising to the White House that there are now problems when the repayment started?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to get more information and put this — get this more into context before I answer you on this question. Obviously, again, when it comes to the glitches that you’re mentioning, we want to make sure this process is easily — is easy and smooth.
So, obviously, we take this very seriously. I just don’t have any details or specifics or data to share with you at this time.
I want to go back to my team and connect with the Department of Education to get an exact understanding of what’s going on. So, I want to be, actually, really straightforward with you on that because it’s important.
AIDE: All right, Karine. We have to wrap up.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I know.
Q Just another quick one on artificial intelligence. It’s one of the subjects of the Culinary Union’s bargaining with the Las Vegas hotel and casino operators. Is it the — does the White House support their effort to get some kind of rules in place to prevent job displacement from AI?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, collective bargaining is incredibly important. The President believes in that, especially when both sides come together in good faith. And that’s what we want to see. It is up to them. It’s up to the — to the union to decide what is important for their members.
So, I’m not going to get into negotiations. I’m not going to get into specifics.
What I can do is speak to what we just saw: We saw a signing ceremony; the President signed an executive order.
You know, as we know, AI is the most consequential technology of our time, and so we have to take this seriously.
And if you want to look at the — realize the promise of AI and avoid the risk, we need to govern this technology. And you saw today, the — the President leading on this issue in a — not just here in this country, but globally. And so, that is what we want to make sure is important.
This was the most significant action taken by any government — any government on AI.
And so, we’re going to see — we’re going to see the President — as someone just mentioned to me and asked about Congress — we’re going to see the President take a — continue to lead on this.
We need Congress to act. We heard from Senator Schumer on how they’re going to move forward with legislation, and that’s going to be important. And it should be done in a bipartisan fashion.
I know, I have to go. Oh, gosh. Okay. Last one. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Karine. Well —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I thought you were going to explode for a second, so I —
Q No, no —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — just want to make sure not to —
Q — that comes later. Thanks.
My question is about — I know, earlier, John said that you don’t believe in a ceasefire now. We don’t have troops on the ground. And you’ve spoken about it obliquely. But what would the U.S. need to see and support the ceasefire in that region? I mean, what’s the endgame for us?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I mean, the Admiral spoke to this at length and very, very clearly, about where we stand, where the President stands on this. I don’t have anything else to add.
I mean, he was very clear about how what’s important right now is support — it’s to — supporting Israel defend itself against terrorists, you know, in a — in a way that holds up — holds up the law of war — of war and is — and protects its civilians. That’s what we want to see at this time.
Q But as far as an endgame, specifics — do you have specifics in mind that you’ve —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, the Admiral literally spoke to this. What our focus is on right now —
Q I get that.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — right now — right now is to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against these terrorists. That is our focus right now.
Q And then, finally, do you think that you’ll be speaking — this administration will be speaking with members of Congress — House and Senate — prior to November 17th, which is when we face the next shutdown?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I’ve said this over and over again: We have our OMB Director, Shalanda Young. We have the Office of Leg Affairs.
Q But directly from the President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well — well, they have had consistent, continued conversations with members of Congress throughout — not just the com- — the past couple of days, but the past several months, and that’s going to continue.
All right, guys. Tomorrow, we’ll be back.
Q I’ll explode now. Thanks.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We’ll be back.
Q Thanks, Karine.
4:17 P.M. EDT