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Netanyahu accepts invitation to address US Congress for the fourth time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an invitation to speak to the United States Congress, in both houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, his office said this Saturday (1), adding that he will become the first foreign leader to make four such appearances on the organ.

“I am humbled by the privilege of representing Israel before both houses of Congress and presenting to representatives of the American people and around the world the truth about our just war against those who seek our destruction,” he said in the statement.

Israel received an invitation to speak at the US Congress on Friday (31)

US leaders The Senate and House of Representatives on Friday invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress, and show support amid partisan divisions over Israel's campaign. in Gaza.

The letter inviting Netanyahu was signed by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“To build on our enduring relationship and highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision to defend democracy, combat terrorism, and establish a just and lasting peace in the region,” the letter said.

The document did not propose a date for the speech.

Johnson had said the Israeli leader would soon address a joint meeting of Congress, amid rising tensions with President Joe Biden's administration over Netanyahu's handling of the war in Gaza.

The Republican speaker of the House said he would invite the Israeli leader regardless of whether Democratic congressional leaders signed the letter.

Johnson was one of many Republicans who criticized Biden for saying he would withhold a shipment of bombs for Israel if it organized a full-scale invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where thousands of Palestinians fled during the war.

Billions of dollars worth of US-made weapons remain in preparation for shipment to Israel.

More speeches to the US Congress than Churchill

Biden's support for Israel in its war against Hamas has emerged as a political liability for the president, especially among young Democrats.

The current president is running for re-election this year. This fueled a wave of “disengaged” protest votes in the presidential primaries and sparked pro-Palestinian protests at universities.

Hamas' attack on southern Israel on October 7 killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli calculations. Palestinian health authorities estimate that more than 36,280 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel attacked the region.

Speeches at joint congressional meetings by foreign leaders are a rare honor, usually reserved for the closest allies or major world figures. Netanyahu has already given three speeches of this type, the most recent in 2015.

Netanyahu would become the first foreign leader to speak four times at joint congressional meetings when he accepted the invitation. He is currently tied for third place with British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The invitation to speak to Congress was announced on the same day that Biden said Israel had proposed a ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages and asked Hamas to agree to the new offer, saying it was the best way to end the conflict.

In March, Netanyahu addressed Republican senators via video call, almost a week after Schumer gave a speech in the Senate calling the prime minister an obstacle to peace and calling for new elections in Israel.

The formal invitation on Friday (31) was first reported by news website The Hill.

Source: CNN Brasil

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