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Senator Schumer signals intent to approve invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress

This would be the Israeli prime minister's 4th address to US Congress and 1st since 2015

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during Senate Democrats' weekly press conference, Washington, DC, February 6, 2024. (Photo: Allison Bailey/NurPhoto)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), indicated on Thursday that he would likely approve a request for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson said he plans to invite Netanyahu to address the Congress soon.  

The conservative coalition Advancing American Freedom sent a letter to Johnson asking him to invite Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress shortly after a speech in which Chuck Schumer said that “Netanyahu has lost his way” and said his coalition “no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7.” 

On Wednesday, Johnson said he was considering the idea and in an interview with CNBC on Thursday morning, he confirmed that an invitation is coming.

“We’ll certainly extend that invitation,” Johnson said. He also said he was invited to address members of the Israeli Knesset and added: “We’re just trying to work out schedules on all this.” 

Johnson criticized Schumer’s previous statements about Netanyahu during his CNBC interview. 

“What Chuck Schumer did was, was just almost staggering. It’s unbelievable to suggest to our strongest ally in the Middle East, the only stable democracy, that he knows better how to run their democracy, it’s just patently absurd,” Johnson said. 

Johnson also indicated that he would be willing to invite Netanyahu to speak only to the U.S. House of Representatives if Schumer did not approve the invitation to address the whole Congress. 

“I’m the one that extends invitations to speak in the House, if we just have the House, that’s fine, too,” Johnson said. “But I think a big majority of the Senate would want to come and stand in support of Netanyahu and Israel.” 

While Schumer’s office indicated that Johnson had not officially broached the issue with the Senate majority leader, he said himself that Israel “has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one Prime Minister.” 

The senator added, “I will always welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way.” 

Schumer and Johnson must agree to invite the prime minister to address a joint session of Congress.

Netanyahu last addressed a joint session of Congress in 2015, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. At the time, he was invited to speak as a way of showing displeasure over Obama’s pursuit of the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. 

If invited, it would be Netanyahu's fourth address to a joint session of Congress.

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

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