Netanyahu Set to Address Congress on July 24

June 7, 2024 by Dan McCue
Netanyahu Set to Address Congress on July 24
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony for the 'Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism' at Yad LeBanim in Jerusalem, Israel, Sunday, May 12, 2024.(Debbie Hill/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted a bipartisan invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress, and will do so on Wednesday, July 24, the two top Republicans on the Hill announced Thursday night.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the bipartisan, bicameral meeting symbolizes the enduring relationship and solidarity between the United States and Israel.

They also explained that they extended the invitation to Netanyahu, alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to enable the prime minister to “share the Israeli government’s vision for defending their democracy, combating terror and establishing just and lasting peace in the region.”

In accepting the invitation, Netanyahu said he was “very moved” to have “the privilege of representing Israel before both Houses of Congress.”

He went on to say that he looks forward to presenting “the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us to the representatives of the American people and the entire world.”

But in a sign of stark divisions between Republicans and Democrats over the visit and Israel’s war in Gaza more generally, neither Democratic leader joined the statement announcing the date of the prime minister’s visit.

Instead, Schumer issued a separate statement in which he explained that he continues to have “clear and profound disagreements with the prime minister, which I have voiced both privately and publicly and will continue to do so.”

Earlier this year, Schumer called for Netanyahu to step down and for Israel to hold new elections.

He also said he joined the request for Netanyahu to speak in the first place only “because America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister.”

Others on the Hill have been less measured in their words. 

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for instance, has spent significant moments this week lambasting Netanyahu and the execution of the war on Gaza from the floor of the Senate chamber.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Promising to boycott the speech, Sanders at one point referred to Netanyahu as a “war criminal” whose war to finish off Hamas has decimated the region, leaving thousands dead and causing a humanitarian crisis.

“Children are starving in Gaza because of Netanyahu’s policies,” Sanders said earlier this week. “[Speaker Johnson] should remember these children when he’s enjoying fine steaks and lobsters at fundraising dinners with his billionaire friends.”

Sanders also blasted Johnson over an interview the speaker granted FoxNew and in which he accused the senator of “parroting Hamas talking points.”

“He then went on to say that I and others who object to Netanyahu’s policies and upcoming speech stand with Hamas and the Ayatollah,” Sanders said. “That, of course, is an absolute lie.”

“I believe Hammas is a terrorist organization that committed an atrocious act when it began this war by attacking Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, and killing 1,200 innocent men, women and children, while taking more than 200 hostages.

“Over the last eight months … Netanyahu and his extremist government have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and wounded over 82,000 — that is 5% of the population of Gaza,” Sanders continued. “And 60% of those who have been killed or wounded are women, children, or elderly people.”

“There’s a lot of talk in the media and among the pundits about the day after the war ends,” the senator said. “But let’s be clear. For over 1 million people, there is no ‘day after’ on which they can return to their homes, because their homes, their housing units, have been destroyed.”

For those interested in the language used in the invitation to Netanyahu, a “joint meeting” is when the House and Senate assemble together to hear a speech by a dignitary of some sort.

A “joint session” on the other hand, is when the House and Senate assemble together to hear the president give a speech.

A joint session is also held to count the electoral votes for president and vice-president.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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