Netanyahu to address joint session of Congress next month

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of Congress on July 24 amid his nation’s ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, two sources familiar with the date confirmed to NBC News.

The timing of the address was first reported by Punchbowl News and comes after all four leaders in Congress issued a formal invitation to Netanyahu at the end of last month.

In their May 31 letter, Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries asked Netanyahu to appear before Congress “to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”

Several Democrats have already indicated they plan to boycott the speech over Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza or have otherwise expressed concern that his address could deepen tensions in Congress.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Tuesday that he wouldn’t have invited Netanyahu to address Congress unless the Israeli leader committed to a two-state solution first.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., referred to the Israeli prime minister as a “war criminal” during an NBC News interview this week and said that he would not attend the speech.

President Joe Biden has publicly criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the war in recent months and has said that more needs to be done to to ensure humanitarian aid flows into Gaza.

The same day congressional leaders extended their invitation to Netanyahu, Biden announced that Israel had put forward a three-part plan that he said would pave the way for a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and trigger the release of all hostages who have been held there since October. That proposal appeared to be undermined a day later, when Netanyahu called a permanent cease-fire in Gaza a “nonstarter” unless certain conditions are met.

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