Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on July 24

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress on July 24, his fourth time appearing before the legislative body.

The Netanyahu speech, coming against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, is meant to demonstrate American support for Israel at a time when Israel has come under widespread criticism for its military campaign and Netanyahu faces a possible arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court.

“We look forward to hearing the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement.

The announcement of the date comes at a time of uncertainty in the war, as Hamas weighs a ceasefire proposal put forward by the United States and Israel that would pause the fighting for at least six weeks and could lead to an end to the war. It also comes at a tenuous political time in Israel: Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose centrist party joined Netanyahu’s government at the outset of the war, appears likely to quit after demanding a clear plan for the day after the fighting.

The speech is also sure to attract controversy in Washington. A significant number of Democrats have lambasted Netanyahu and called for a ceasefire in the war. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, long one of Israel’s most stalwart backers, gave a speech earlier this year calling for new elections in Israel and for Netanyahu’s government to be replaced. He later agreed to invite the prime minister to Capitol Hill.

“I have clear and profound disagreements with the Prime Minister, which I have voiced both privately and publicly and will continue to do so,” Schumer said in a statement. “But because America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister I joined the request for him to speak.”

Netanyahu, who has served as Israel’s prime minister longer than any other person, has addressed Congress thrice previously. His last speech, in 2015, was particularly contentious as he was invited by Republican leadership and attacked then-President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

 

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