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US House Speaker confirms Israel’s Netanyahu to address Congress ‘soon’: Will this move infuriate Democrats?

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Days after the Israeli PM vowed that they will continue to fight against Hamas even without US aid, House Speaker Mike Johnson stated Thursday that Benjamin Netanyahu will “soon” address a joint session of Congress.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Netanyahu has been communicating with Republican Congressional leaders in recent weeks about a possible joint session address, The Times of Israel reported.(AFP)

Speaking at the Israeli Embassy’s annual Independence Day celebration in Washington, Johnson said: “This will be a timely and very strong show of support to the Israeli government in their time of greatest need.”

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While the House Speaker did not give specific details like where the address will take place, he informed the reporters that US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had assured that he would approve the invitation.

This development comes after Schumer criticised Netanyahu as a barrier to peace and urged for early elections in Israel to replace him.

Will Johnson’s move upset Democrats?

Johnson’s decision would undoubtedly annoy some Democrats, particularly when the US is pushing Israel to do more to safeguard Palestinian civilians amidst war on Gaza. Back in 2015, 60 Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s joint session address, which was arranged by Republican congressional leaders when Barack Obama was president.

Reacting to the idea of inviting Netanyahu, former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “No”, as per Axios.

Meanwhile, other Democratic party sources termed Netanyahu’s expected speech to Congress as “grave mistake”, stating that “It would increase polarisation and highlight the disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over the conduct of Netanyahu and Israel.”

A considerably bigger number of Democrats may again boycott a Netanyahu address that comes amid the Israel-Hamas war and straining ties between Biden and Israeli PM. Earlier this month, Biden issued a stern warning to Israel about withholding arms if it launched an extensive offensive in Rafah.

Also Read: Biden, Netanyahu speak as Israel tells Gazans to leave Rafah

What’s the intention behind Netanyahu’s address?

According to a source familiar with the matter, Netanyahu has been communicating with Republican Congressional leaders in recent weeks about a possible joint session address, The Times of Israel reported. The session is being seen as a chance to make Israel’s case strong on the global stage, the insider added.

In case Netanyahu accepts the proposal, he would become the first world leader to address joint sessions of Congress four times.

Meanwhile, Democratic US Representative Pete Aguilar reiterated the US commitment to protect Israel’s sovereignty.

Johnson and Aguilar both opposed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s move to pursue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense chief over Israel’s war against Hamas, which was launched after the terrorist organisation attacked Israel, killing 1,200 civilians.

Johnson also took a veiled jibe at Biden, claiming that “some leaders” had attempted to block “vital weapons” from Israel, despite the fact that the supply of arms has generally been maintained.

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