US Congress invites Israel's Netanyahu to address lawmakers

AFP , Saturday 1 Jun 2024

Democratic and Republican leaders in the US Congress have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver an address to lawmakers, House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday.

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. AFP


The four party leaders in the House and Senate asked Netanyahu to speak before a joint meeting of Congress at a date yet to be arranged, although US media reported that it is expected to take place just before or soon after the August recess.

"On behalf of the bipartisan leadership of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, we would like to invite you to address a Joint Meeting of Congress." said the letter, which Johnson made public.

A visit from Netanyahu could be an awkward affair for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called in March for Israel to hold new elections in a rare example of strident criticism from a senior American official of Israel's handling of its war on Gaza.

The rebuke from Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish American in history, came amid increased pressure on the Joe Biden administration which has provided unwavering support for Israel's onslaught in Gaza.

Israel's war against Gaza has also led to a wave of criticism from the UN and world leaders who have urged an "immediate ceasefire" in the war-battered territory.

In a sign of the worsening ties between Washington and the Netanyahu government, Schumer said the Israeli leader was one of four "major obstacles" to peace, alongside Hamas, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and radical right-wing Israelis.

Although Schumer signed the invitation, a visit by Netanyahu would not be welcomed by figures on the left of the Democratic Party who have condemned the right-wing leader over the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

More than 36,280 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israeli strikes and incursions since the war broke out on October 7, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The Israeli army says 294 soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of Israel's ground offensive on October 27.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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