Speaker Johnson Plans Congressional Address by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

House Speaker Mike Johnson Plans to Extend Congressional Invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

House Speaker Mike Johnson has revealed intentions to extend an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, as reported by CNBC's Squawk Box. Although no formal invitation has been issued yet, Johnson expressed eagerness to welcome Netanyahu for a joint session.

The potential invitation comes amid escalating discussions on Capitol Hill regarding U.S. support for Israel, particularly in light of the recent Israeli conflict in Gaza. While bipartisan support for Israel has historically been strong, divisions have emerged within the Democratic Party regarding U.S. policy towards Israel, with some lawmakers advocating for a reassessment of aid distribution.

President Biden's recent phone call with Netanyahu underscored concerns over military operations in Rafah, where a significant civilian population is at risk. Despite these tensions, foreign leaders addressing joint sessions of Congress is customary, typically requiring invitations from both the House speaker and the Senate majority leader.

However, as of now, Johnson has not consulted with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding the potential invitation. Responses from other Congressional leaders vary, with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries expressing no prior knowledge of the invitation, while Schumer remains open to bipartisan dialogue with Israeli leadership.

Nevertheless, the proposed invitation has sparked debate within Congress, with some members, like Rep. Greg Meeks, viewing it as divisive politics. Meeks hopes Netanyahu will decline the invitation, questioning the appropriateness of addressing Congress amidst ongoing tensions.

In summary, Speaker Johnson's plans to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu reflect ongoing discussions surrounding U.S.-Israeli relations, with Congress navigating through differing opinions on the matter.

In a politically charged atmosphere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Senate Republicans virtually on Wednesday, at the invitation of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. This virtual meeting occurred shortly after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly criticized Netanyahu's handling of the conflict in Israel and called for new elections in the country post-war.

Following the meeting, McConnell reiterated the GOP's support for Netanyahu and emphasized that the United States should refrain from interfering in Israeli politics. He expressed concern over what he perceives as a crack in bipartisan support for Israel, particularly on the political left, but maintained the stance of non-interference.

Schumer, known as the highest-ranking Jewish American leader, expressed his deep concern for Israel's long-term future, cautioning against partisan divisions that could undermine efforts to assist Israel.

Netanyahu's potential address to lawmakers raises echoes of past controversies. His last address to a joint session of Congress in 2015, orchestrated by then-Speaker John Boehner without consultation with President Obama, occurred during strained U.S.-Israeli relations amid negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel vehemently opposed.

The invitation has drawn criticism from progressive quarters, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denouncing it as inappropriate, particularly in the wake of ongoing devastation. She highlighted concerns about the institution's independence in such tumultuous times.

Rep. Jamie Raskin expressed reservations about the invitation, suggesting that Netanyahu's alignment with right-wing politicians like Russian President Vladimir Putin raises questions about the GOP's priorities. He emphasized the importance of maintaining momentum for democracy and peace, advocating for a comprehensive approach focused on hostage release, ceasefires, and progress towards a two-state solution.

As tensions simmer, the decision to invite Netanyahu to address Congress underscores the complex interplay between domestic politics, international relations, and the enduring alliance between the United States and Israel.

When pressed about the potential for lawmaker boycotts of a Netanyahu speech, Representative Meeks opted to sidestep the question, refraining from engaging with hypothetical scenarios. However, he did highlight what he perceives as political maneuvering on the part of the speaker, suggesting that the invitation may be strategically timed to influence votes in upcoming presidential and congressional elections. This response reflects the cautious approach adopted by some lawmakers amidst the controversy surrounding Netanyahu's proposed address to Congress.

In conclusion, the discourse surrounding the invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress highlights the complex intersection of domestic politics and international relations. While some lawmakers express support for maintaining bipartisan ties with Israel, others raise concerns about the timing and implications of the invitation. The decision to extend the invitation has sparked debate within Congress, with questions raised about potential boycotts and accusations of political maneuvering. As tensions simmer, the outcome remains uncertain, underscoring the delicate balance between diplomatic protocol and domestic considerations in shaping U.S.-Israeli relations.