update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Netanyahu to address joint session of Congress, Johnson says

The Biden administration said it had not been informed of a visit by the PM.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the crowd during his address to a joint session of Congress, March 3, 2015. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the crowd during his address to a joint session of Congress, March 3, 2015. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

Republicans and Democrats are poised to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced on Wednesday.

Johnson repeatedly urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to co-sign a letter inviting Netanyahu to address the lawmakers.

“I spoke with him today and he’s going to sign the letter jointly and it’ll get out to the prime minister this week,” the House speaker told Britain’s The Independent after votes in the House on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Axios cited Johnson as saying that he had “not spoken to [Schumer] personally, but our staffs have communicated and it seems as though he wants to sign on. I expect it to happen today or as quickly as possible because we have to get the letter sent out.”

Johnson said he did not have a date set, telling The Independent, “No, I’m going to talk [with] Prime Minister Netanyahu about that today.”

The Biden administration said on Wednesday that it had not been informed of a visit by the Israeli leader. “We’ll stay in touch with the prime minister and obviously we’ll stay in touch with the Congress and see what happens,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

“So we have not at this point heard from the prime minister on a joint address to the Congress, the president talks to the prime minister in fact, he just talked to him not too long ago, senior administration officials engaged with him I just did so over the weekend,” Sullivan added.

Johnson first floated the proposal in March, shortly after Schumer said Netanyahu was “an obstacle for peace” and called for early Israeli elections. The Jewish senator’s remarks drew intense criticism from colleagues across the aisle and even a gentle reproach from his own party.

“It is highly inappropriate and simply wrong for Senator Schumer to be calling for new elections in Israel,” Johnson said at the time. “We need to stand strong with Israel, but the White House and Senate Democrats are seemingly standing with and supporting Iran and its proxies instead.”

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