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Speaker Mike Johnson says he plans to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress

WorldSpeaker Mike Johnson says he plans to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress


WASHINGTON — House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Thursday that he plans to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about the conflict against Hamas in Gaza.

“I would love to have him come in and address a joint session of Congress. We’ll certainly extend that invitation,” Johnson said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Johnson said Netanyahu has already invited him to speak to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and they just have to work out scheduling. The speaker then denounced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for his floor speech last week railing against Netanyahu’s leadership and calling for new elections in Israel.

“To suggest to our strongest ally in the Middle East, the only stable democracy, that he knows better how to run their democracy is just patently absurd,” Johnson said. “I mean, imagine if I came on your show this morning and called for regime change in Ukraine, in the middle of their crisis, fighting for their very survival. That’s what Israel is facing right now. And for the leader of the Senate to say such a thing was just outrageous.”

Asked if Schumer would have to agree to Netanyahu speaking before Congress, Johnson said, “Well I guess we’ll find out. I mean, look, I’m the one that extends the invitations to speak in the House. And if we just have the House, that’s fine too. But I think a big majority of that Senate would want to come and stand in support of Netanyahu and Israel.”

Johnson hasn’t spoken with Schumer yet about Netanyahu potentially coming to Congress to speak, a spokesperson for the Democratic leader said Thursday.

“Israel has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one Prime Minister,” Schumer said in a statement. “I will always welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way.”

Netanyahu last spoke to a joint session of Congress in 2015, when both chambers were controlled by Republicans, and he used the speech to criticize the Obama administration over its negotiations with U.S. allies and Iran on a nuclear deal.

Netanyahu on Wednesday addressed Senate Republicans by video for 45 minutes in a closed-door meeting, while Schumer rejected a request by the Israeli prime minister to address Senate Democrats.

“Sen. Schumer made it clear that he does not think these discussions should happen in a partisan manner. That’s not helpful to Israel,” a spokesperson for Schumer said Wednesday.

GOP senators who heard Netanyahu speak said his main message to them was Israel is going to “finish the job” against Hamas.

The White House is expecting to meet with an Israeli delegation in Washington next week, a U.S. official said, after President Joe Biden invited a team of officials to visit during a phone call with Netanyahu earlier this week. During that conversation, Biden warned the Israeli prime minister against proceeding with his country’s planned ground offensive in Rafah, a city in southwestern Gaza along Egypt’s border.

Another U.S. official said that the Biden administration will formalize its recommendations to the Israelis to use small-scale operations that go after high-value Hamas targets and don’t put civilians at risk.





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