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Netanyahu's scheduled address to Congress divides Democratic lawmakers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress, March 3, 2015 (Photo:

The ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has resulted in growing tensions between the United States and Israel, despite close ties between the two nations.

The far-left wing of the Democratic party in the U.S. has urged President Joe Biden to distance himself from Israel while many mainstream Democrats have continued to express support for Israel.

As a result, Democratic lawmakers are deeply divided by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled address to members of the U.S. Congress on July 24.

In 2015, when Netanyahu was invited to speak despite opposition from former U.S. President Barack Obama, about 60 Democratic lawmakers chose not to attend the Israeli leader’s address to Congress.

In March, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who generally supports Israel, called Netanyahu an “obstacle to peace” and urged new elections in Israel. Then, earlier this month, Netanyahu was formally invited to speak after an internal debate among U.S. lawmakers.

“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,” the bipartisan lawmakers wrote in the invitation.

Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat and former House speaker, recently expressed her love for Israel while criticizing the prime minister.

“I wish that he would be a statesman and do what is right for Israel. We all love Israel,” Pelosi said during a recent CNN interview. “We need to help them and not have him stand in the way of that for such a long time,” she added without elaborating.

Like Pelosi, some other Democrats have indicated they will attend Netanyahu’s address out of respect for Israel despite their political disagreements with Netanyahu.

The former House speaker believes Netanyahu’s upcoming address could lead to further divisions within the Democratic Party.

“I think it’s going to invite more of what we have seen in terms of discontent among our own,” Pelosi stated.

Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland is opposed to Netanyahu’s delivering an address and argued that Congress has no obligation to “extend a political lifeline” to the Israeli leader.

U.S. Republican lawmakers have expressed strong support for inviting Netanyahu to speak.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul believes it would be “healthy” to have a bipartisan presence in Congress during Netanyahu’s address.  

“I think that a lot of Americans are getting a one-sided narrative, especially the younger generation, and I think it’s important they hear from the prime minister of Israel, in terms of his perspective,” McCaul said.

Netanyahu reportedly said he was “very moved” by the invitation to address Congress and pledged “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.”

While tensions between the Netanyahu and the Biden administration preceded the Gaza War, those were largely kept behind closed doors. Last week, however, Netanyahu publicly repeated his claim that “there has been a dramatic decline” in Washington’s arms deliveries to Israel as the Biden administration continues to pressure Israel to end its military operations against Hamas in Gaza.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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