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War in the Gaza Strip: Republicans invite Benjamin Netanyahu to address the US Congress

An extremely political response to the ICC? Or a rock in the American electoral pond? House Republican Whip Mike Johnson announced Thursday evening that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon address a joint session of Congress amid heightened tensions with President Joe Biden over the U.S.’s management of the war in the Gaza Strip. Israeli leader.

Speaking at the annual Independence Day dinner hosted by Israel’s ambassador to Washington this year at the National Building Museum, the speaker, the highest-ranking Republican in Congress and a critic of the Democratic president’s Israel policies, said that “Tonight I am pleased to announce. ..that we will soon meet Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Capitol for a joint session of Congress.” It would be “a strong show of support for the Israeli government at a time when it needs it most,” he said to applause from his camp.

The decision leaves Democrats in a difficult position: While Joe Biden has retained the support of his Israeli ally, he has become increasingly critical of the Jewish state’s strategy against Hamas and has suspended bomb shipments if Netanyahu presses ahead with a major ground operation in Rafah. Johnson, a supporter of Donald Trump with whom Bibi has always maintained cordial relations, did not fail to laugh at “certain leaders” who sought to take away “vital weapons” from Israel. As for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, if he had said in March that Israel’s leader had “lost his way” and called for new elections in Israel, Johnson believes he would have agreed to Congress welcoming Netanyahu.

“A Vivid Show of Support for the Israeli Government”

Johnson did not specify the date of this major speech, the idea of ​​​​which was supported by Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar, who is only the fourth Democrat in the House of Representatives in order of responsibilities. “As Americans, we reaffirm our commitment to Israeli sovereignty,” he said, as the issue of the Gaza war and American support especially animates the American election campaign.

Both Johnson and Aguilar condemned the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s decision this week to seek arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense chief Yoav Gallant. The prosecutor also sought arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders responsible for the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war in the Gaza Strip.

When asked whether he was consulted about the invitation, the White House declined to comment. The president’s team also declined to say whether the Oval Office would use Netanyahu’s visit to Washington to arrange the interview. Traveling to Washington without that invitation would only further highlight the differences between the two men, the Times of Israel said.

Testifying before Congress is a rare honor usually reserved for close US allies. In March 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky spoke with American lawmakers via video conference from Kyiv. Benjamin Netanyahu has already given three speeches on Capitol Hill, most recently in 2015. That same year, Republican leaders invited him without consulting then-Democratic President Barack Obama as Netanyahu joined them in an unsuccessful attempt to derail Obama’s international nuclear deal with Iran, which would be blown up by Donald Trump three years later. Dozens of Democrats boycotted his speech, and some may do the same this time.

Source: Le Parisien

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