Netanyahu to address US Congress on July 24

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address US lawmakers in Washington DC on July 24, congressional leaders announced Thursday.

He will speak before both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) as the war between Israel and Gaza continues.

Both Republicans and Democrats invited the prime minister to speak, but the date of his speech was not made official until Thursday.

Last month, the International Criminal Court prosecutor sought arrest warrants against the Israeli leader and his Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, on war-related charges.

Mister Netanyahu condemned the ICC’s movesaying that he rejected with disgust that “democratic Israel” had been compared to what he called “mass murderers.”

Netanyahu said, according to a statement issued by congressional leaders, 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.”

In their letter of invitation to the prime minister, House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – both Republicans – said they hoped Netanyahu would take the opportunity to “share the government’s vision.” to defend democracy, combat terrorism and establish a just country and lasting peace in the region.

Netanyahu’s visit comes at a time when the relationship with the United States has become strained, especially among leading American Democrats.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, said in a separate statement that he supported the invitation despite his “clear and deep disagreements with the Prime Minister, which I have expressed both privately and publicly.”

“But because the United States’ relationship with Israel is strong and transcends one person or the prime minister, I joined the request for him to speak,” he said.

US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has also become more critical of Israel as the war continues and the death toll in Gaza rises.

Biden, who is running for re-election in November, has come under political pressure from his party’s left flank to do more to convince Israel to limit its war in Gaza.

Some progressive leaders, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have said they intend to boycott Netanyahu’s speech in protest of Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas-led fighters killed about 1,200 people and took another 251 hostage during an attack on southern Israel on October 7.

At least 36,470 people have been killed in Gaza in nearly eight months of fighting since then, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Biden has recently made public his administration’s push for a ceasefire agreement that would begin a six-week cessation of hostilities in Gaza.

The three-part plan the president unveiled last week would see an “increase” in humanitarian aid as well as an exchange of some hostages for Palestinian prisoners before a permanent end to the war.

The proposal, however, has met with open opposition from some members of Israel’s government, raising doubts that an agreement can be reached.

Hanoch Milwidsky, a senior Knesset member for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, told the BBC on Sunday that Israel’s ruling coalition was united in opposition to the deal, which he called “completely unacceptable.”

Netanyahu last spoke before the US Congress in 2015, when both chambers were controlled by Republicans. He took the opportunity to criticize then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat, for seeking a deal with allies the United States and Iran to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program.

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