Netanyahu to Address Congress on July 24

The Israeli prime minister has said he is “privileged” to be able to explain his country’s “just war” in Gaza to US lawmakers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver a speech before a joint session of the US Congress on July 24, senior Republican lawmakers said.

The date of the address was announced by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) in a statement on Thursday after Netanyahu was officially invited to speak by all four Republican and Democratic congressional leaders last week.

“The existential challenges we face, including the growing partnership between Iran, Russia, and China, threaten the security, peace, and prosperity of our countries and of free people around the world,” the statement read.

According to Johnson and McConnell, the Israeli prime minister is being invited to share his country’s “vision for defending democracy, combating terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region” in order “to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel” amid the conflict in Gaza.

The statement included a response by Netanyahu, who said he is “very moved to have the privilege of representing Israel before both Houses of Congress and to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us to the representatives of the American people and the entire world.”

The announcement of the date for the address did not include the names of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers have been critical of Israel’s conduct in Gaza and have spoken out against Netanyahu’s appearance in Congress.

Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish official in American history, issued a statement on Thursday stressing that he has “clear and profound disagreements” with the Israeli leader. He said that he signed the invitation to Netanyahu because “America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) reacted to the announcement on X (formerly Twitter), saying that Netanyahu, who “is creating the worst humanitarian disaster in modern history. Starvation. Destruction. Death,” should not be invited to address Congress. Sanders said earlier that he will join the Democrats who skip the speech.

Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress for the fourth time, more than any other foreign leader. He previously visited the Capitol in 1996, 2011, and 2015.

At least 36,654 people have so far been killed and more than 83,309 others wounded in Israeli airstrikes and ground offensive in Gaza, according to the Palestinian enclave’s Health Ministry. Israel launched the operation in response to a cross-border incursion by Palestinian armed group Hamas last October, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.