President Joe Biden voiced support Wednesday for Israel’s defense and warned against believing Palestinian estimates of casualties as the Jewish state continues to pound the Gaza Strip in retaliation for terrorist attacks committed by Hamas, which governs Gaza.
During a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the Rose Garden of the White House, Biden also talked briefly about newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., China’s aggression against the Philippines, climate change, and the Russia-Ukraine war.
A PBS reporter asked Biden about Johnson, saying that after the 2020 election, the Louisiana congressman objected to certifying Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. On the House floor Wednesday, Democrats also attacked Johnson as an election denier.
The PBS reporter asked: “If you win reelection in 2024 are you concerned that Speaker Johnson would again attempt to overturn the election?”
Biden responded, “No.”
“Just like I wasn’t worried that the last guy would overturn the election,” Biden added, referring to his predecessor, President Donald Trump. “He had about 60 lawsuits. Every time, they lost. I understand the Constitution.”
During his opening remarks at the press conference, Biden asserted that Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself after Hamas’ surprise attack Oct. 7 on Israel, massacring 1,400 and taking about 200 others hostage.
The same PBS reporter told the president that the “Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed over 6,000 Palestinians, including 2,700 children.”
But Biden appeared skeptical of those numbers from the Gaza Health Ministry.
“What that says to me is that I have no notion the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people were killed,” Biden said. “I’m sure innocents have been killed … but I think we should be incredibly careful. I think the Israelis should be incredibly careful to be sure they are going after the folks that are propagating this war against Israel. It is against their interest when that doesn’t happen. But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are giving.”
A reporter from the Australian press shouted, “Are they lying?”
On Monday, Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Filipino vessels in the South China Sea. The United States has a mutual defense agreement with the Philippines going back to a 1951 treaty.
“Just this past week, the PRC vessels acted dangerously and unlawfully as our Philippine friends conducted a routine resupply mission within their own inclusive economic zone in the South China Sea,” Biden said of China’s actions.
“I want to be clear. I want to be very clear. The United States’ defense commitment to the Philippines is ironclad. The United States’ defense commitment to the Philippines is ironclad,” Biden said, repeating himself. “Any attack on a Filipino aircraft, vessels or armed forces will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.”
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