Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu Set to Address US Congress Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

On July 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress, highlighting wartime solidarity and stirring political controversy over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address a joint sitting of Congress on July 24, setting the scene for a heated speech at a critical juncture in the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

Following a formal invitation to Netanyahu to appear before members last week, congressional leaders confirmed the date of the presentation late Thursday.

It is the latest recent demonstration of wartime solidarity for the old friend, amid growing political differences over Israel’s military attack on Hamas in Gaza.

“The existential challenges we face, including the growing partnership between Iran, Russia, and China, threaten the security, peace, and prosperity of our countries and of free people around the world,” House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, along with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, stated in the letter.

“To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”

Netanyahu to address US Congress on July 24

Netanyahu’s speech before a divided Congress will undoubtedly be contentious, with MPs inside the Capitol and pro-Palestinian protestors outside.

And it will highlight the deepening election-year splits among Democrats about the prime minister’s handling of the months-long fight against Hamas.

Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, who delivered a stinging rebuke of Netanyahu in March, said in a separate statement Thursday night that he has “clear and profound disagreements” with the Israeli leader but joined the call for him to speak “because America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister.”

Other Democratic legislators who are skeptical of Netanyahu’s tactics are anticipated to skip the event. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said, “Netanyahu is a war criminal.” I will definitely not attend.”

Netanyahu’s visit to the Capitol comes as President Joe Biden’s relationship with the head of the Jewish state has deteriorated in recent months. Biden has attacked Netanyahu’s conduct of the conflict, both individually and publicly, as well as the Israeli government’s refusal to let additional humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

Late last week, Biden offered a suggested compromise to cease the war in Gaza, placing further pressure on Netanyahu to accept it. Many Israelis have urged him to accept the demands, but his far-right friends have threatened to abandon his coalition government if he does so.

This may expose Netanyahu to fresh elections, investigation of the security errors that led to the war, and, if he loses his position as prime leader, prosecution on long-standing corruption allegations.

The first phase of Biden’s proposed deal would last six weeks and include a “full and complete cease-fire,” the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all densely populated areas of Gaza, and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The second phase would see the release of all remaining surviving prisoners, including male troops, and the departure of Israeli forces from Gaza. The third phase calls for the commencement of massive reconstruction in Gaza, which will take decades to recover from the destruction caused by the war.

Netanyahu has consistently said that a permanent cease-fire in Gaza is a “nonstarter” unless long-standing prerequisites for ending the conflict are satisfied, seeming to invalidate the plan characterized by Biden as Israeli.

A number of Democratic members who have supported Israel from the beginning of the conflict have said that their participation at Netanyahu’s presentation will be contingent on his choice to embrace the current peace agreement.

Johnson first proposed inviting the Israeli leader, calling it “a great honor of mine.” According to Johnson’s news release on Thursday, Netanyahu accepted the offer.

“I am very moved to have the privilege of representing Israel before both Houses of Congress and to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us to the representatives of the American people and the entire world,” Netanyahu said in the statement.

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