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House Speaker to invite Israel leader Netanyahu to address Congress

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., conducts a news conference with members of the House Republican Conference in the Cannon building on March 6, 2024, the day before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday said he will invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

Johnson, R-La., also bashed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over his recent criticism of Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza against the terror group Hamas.

“I would love to have him come in and address a joint session of Congress. We’ll certainly extend that invitation” to Netanyahu, Johnson said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We’re just trying to work out schedules on all this,” he added.

Johnson has been asked to speak at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Schumer, in a response later Thursday, said he would welcome Netanyahu to speak.

“Israel has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one Prime Minister,” the New York Democrat said in a statement sent from his office.

“I will always welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way,” he said.

One week earlier, Schumer denounced Netanyahu and called for Israel to hold an election to oust him.

Schumer accused the prime minister of “allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks toward U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) during a joint news conference in Jerusalem, May 25, 2021.

Menahem Kahana | Pool | Reuters

Schumer said that Netanyahu, who long has aligned himself with former President Donald Trump and other right-wing politicians, is “pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

Johnson on Thursday called Schumer’s comments “almost staggering, just unbelievable.”

“To suggest to our strongest ally in the Middle East, the only stable democracy, that he knows better how to run their democracy, is just patently absurd,” Johnson said.

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“Imagine if I came on your show this morning and called for a regime change in Ukraine, in the middle of their crisis, fighting for their very survival,” he said.

“That’s what Israel’s facing right now, and for the leader of the Senate to say such a thing was just outrageous … I wish Schumer’d keep his comments to himself on all that.”

Netanyahu spoke to Republican senators Wednesday in a closed-door virtual meeting.

Schumer rejected a request by Netanyahu to address the Senate Democratic Caucus in the same manner, NBC News reported.

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