Benjamin Netanyahu set to address Congress on July 24

ByMelanie Zanona, Oren Liebermann and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN CNNWire logo
Friday, June 7, 2024
Netanyahu to address Congress in July
An Israeli official confirmed that Netanyahu will address Congress on July 24.

WASHINGTON -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of Congress on July 24, congressional leaders said Thursday.

Netanyahu's speech will arrive at a time when his relationship with President Joe Biden has become strained over Israel's war plans and efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza. While Congress passed a bill with aid to Ukraine and Israel in April, Democrats remain divided over Israel's handling of its war against Hamas.

The top four congressional leaders - House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - signed on to a letter inviting Netanyahu on May 31.

An Israeli official confirmed that Netanyahu will address Congress on July 24.

The timing of the address was uncertain earlier this week, after an initial floated date of June 13 was ruled out because it fell on the Jewish holiday Shavuot. It also coincided with Biden's visit to Italy for a Group of 7 summit.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

It is not clear whether the prime minister's visit to Washington will include a meeting at the White House. Netanyahu has yet to publicly endorse an Israeli peace proposal laid out by Biden last week. Meanwhile, the US has grown frustrated by some of Israel's war tactics, which officials believe do not include stringent enough protections for civilians.

The decision to invite Netanyahu was not met with unanimous approval among Democrats. Many in the party say the prime minister has become an obstacle to peace, and some members of Congress have vowed to boycott the speech.

Schumer, a New York Democrat who called for new elections in Israel earlier this year, acknowledged in a Thursday night statement that he had "clear and profound disagreements" with Netanyahu, but he defended his decision to sign on to the letter.

"Because America's relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister I joined the request for him to speak," he said.

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