Netanyahu to Speak Before US Congress on July 24

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem on June 5, 2024. GIL COHEN-MAGEN/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address US lawmakers in Washington DC on July 24, congressional leaders announced on Thursday. He will speak to both chambers of Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—as the Israel-Gaza conflict persists.

The invitation to Mr. Netanyahu was extended by both Republicans and Democrats, but the official date was confirmed on Thursday. Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor applied for arrest warrants against the Israeli leader and his defense minister, Yoav Galant, on war-related charges.

Mr. Netanyahu condemned the ICC’s actions, expressing disgust at the comparison of “democratic Israel” to “mass murderers.” He stated in a congressional leaders’ release that he was “very moved to have the privilege of representing Israel… to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans, invited the prime minister, hoping he would “share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s visit comes amid strained US-Israel relations, especially with leading US Democrats. Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer expressed support for the invitation despite his “clear and profound disagreements with the Prime Minister.” He emphasized that America’s relationship with Israel transcends any one person or prime minister.

US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has also been critical of Israel as the Gaza war continues and the death toll rises. Facing political pressure from his party’s left wing, Mr. Biden has been urged to push Israel to limit its military actions in Gaza. Some progressive leaders, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, plan to boycott Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in protest of Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The conflict escalated on October 7, when Hamas-led fighters killed about 1,200 people and took 251 others hostage during an attack on southern Israel. The Hamas-run health ministry reports that at least 36,470 people have been killed in Gaza in nearly eight months of fighting since then.

President Biden has recently promoted a ceasefire plan aiming for a six-week cessation of hostilities in Gaza, increased humanitarian aid, and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners before a permanent end to the war. However, this proposal faces opposition from some members of Israel’s government, casting doubt on the possibility of an agreement.

Hanoch Milwidsky, a senior member of the Knesset for Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that Israel’s coalition is unified in opposing the deal, deeming it “completely unacceptable.”

Mr. Netanyahu last addressed the US Congress in 2015, when he criticized then-President Barack Obama’s deal with US allies and Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.


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