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Ukraine, Israel, TikTok: the massive aid package before US Congress

The US House of Representatives approved a giant aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and a bill threatening to ban TikTok.

Image: — © AFP/File Patrick T. FALLON
Image: — © AFP/File Patrick T. FALLON
Camille CAMDESSUS

The US House of Representatives on Saturday approved a giant aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and a bill threatening to ban TikTok.

Here is a breakdown of the $95 billion package, which now moves to the Senate, where it could be taken up as early as Tuesday.

– Ukraine –

The majority of funds in the package, nearly $61 billion, are earmarked for Ukraine’s war effort against the Russian invasion. President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pleading for this money for months, warning that “if Congress does not help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war.”

Washington is Kyiv’s main military supporter, but Congress has not passed a major aid package for its ally since December 2022 due to partisan squabbling.

The bill passed Saturday would provide nearly $14 billion to train, equip and finance the needs of the Ukrainian army.

Ukraine would also receive $10 billion in “forgivable loans” for vital economic and budgetary support, including for the energy and infrastructure sectors.

The idea of a loan, rather than a grant, was suggested by former president Donald Trump, who believes the United States should stop handing out money without any payback. A “forgivable loan” can be partly or fully forgiven or deferred under certain conditions.

A large chunk of this money will also go to replenishing US military stockpiles.

The bill also authorizes the US president to confiscate and sell Russian assets in order to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine, an idea that is also gaining traction with other G7 countries.

– Israel –

The United States’ historic ally Israel will receive $13 billion in military assistance as it fights Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

These funds will be used in particular to strengthen Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

More than $9 billion will be spent to address “the dire need for humanitarian assistance for Gaza as well as other vulnerable populations around the world.”

The measure, however, would prohibit any direct US funding of the UN crisis-hit Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA). Israel has accused some of the agency employees in Gaza of involvement in the shocking October 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas, which triggered the war.

– Taiwan, TikTok –

The bill would provide some $8 billion to counter China through investment in submarine infrastructure and boosting competition with Chinese projects in developing countries.

The bill also earmarks several billion dollars in weapons funding for Taiwan, a self-ruled island that is claimed by China.

Another bill passed Saturday would force TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company ByteDance or face a nationwide ban in the United States.

American officials have voiced alarm over the popularity of TikTok with young people, alleging that it is subservient to Beijing and a conduit to spread propaganda, claims denied by the company and Beijing.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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