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Progressive Democrats Consider Boycotting Netanyahu’s Congressional Address

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to address Congress in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2024, but some progressive Democrats are already preparing to boycott the speech.

The invite was sent last month by the top Congressional members Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York).

In the official invitation to the prime minister, Congressional leaders wrote that they envisioned Netanyahu sharing “the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combating terror and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.” Netanyahu expressed that he was “very moved to have the privilege of representing Israel… to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us.”

Netanyahu’s relationship with the U.S. has become strained, with leading Democrats and progressives condemning his actions that have contributed to the death of over 36,000 people in Gaza. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) was among a group of progressives who have stated that they will boycott Netanyahu’s speech as a result of Israeli actions.

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The recent International Criminal Court’s (ICC) issuing of arrest warrants for both Netanyahu and Israeli defense Minister, Yoav Galant, as well as top Hamas leaders, also elicited a mixed response from top U.S. leaders.

Schumer joined President Joe Biden in claiming there was “no equivalence” between the two group’s leaders. Sanders announced his support for the ICC’s decision, saying that “the ICC prosecutor is right to take these actions.”

Biden has recently faced increased Democratic pressure to persuade Netanyahu to limit Israel’s participation and hostility in the ongoing war.

The president has recently pushed hard for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Tessa Powers

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