Netanyahu to soon address joint session of US Congress

The gesture is intended to demonstrate strong support for Israel during a challenging time…reports Asian Lite News

US House Speaker Mike Johnson announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon address a joint session of Congress, despite rising tensions with President Joe Biden over Netanyahu’s handling of the Gaza conflict.

Johnson, a Republican critic of Biden’s Israel policy, made the announcement during a keynote speech at the Israeli embassy’s annual Independence Day reception.

This gesture is intended to demonstrate strong support for Israel during a challenging time, though it is expected to further inflame progressive Democrats who criticize Israel’s military actions in Gaza and Biden’s backing of them.

The event in Washington, marked by diplomatic strain, also featured Democratic US Representative Pete Aguilar, who emphasized the American commitment to Israel’s sovereignty. Johnson’s announcement was met with applause as he revealed plans to host Netanyahu at the Capitol for a joint session.

Historically, US administrations have sent high-level officials to these Independence Day receptions to reflect Israel’s status as a key ally.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who called for a Gaza ceasefire, spoke at last year’s event, underscoring US support for Israel. This year, the embassy aimed to honour lawmakers bipartisanly, acknowledging Congress’s approval of substantial US military aid to Israel.

The reception coincided with a White House dinner for Kenyan President William Ruto, resulting in a scheduling conflict for senior Biden administration members. Nonetheless, several Biden aides, including Derek Chollet from the State Department, were present.

Johnson and Aguilar condemned the International Criminal Court’s recent arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense chief over Gaza. Johnson criticized Biden’s hesitation to send certain weapons to Israel, accusing some leaders of withholding vital support.

Meawhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against the intended recognition of an independent Palestinian state as announced by Norway, Ireland, and Spain.

“The intention of several European countries to recognise a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Eighty per cent of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) support the terrible massacre of October 7,” he asserted.

“This evil cannot be given a state.”

“This would be a terrorist state. It will try to repeat the massacre of October 7 again and again; we will not consent to this,” the Israeli Prime Minister asserted.

“Rewarding terrorism will not bring peace and neither will it stop us from defeating Hamas,” Netanyahu added.

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