Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters after a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 29, 2022.

(Photo: Elizabeth Frantz for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

After Rebuking Netanyahu on Senate Floor, Schumer to Invite Israeli PM to Address Congress

Schumer called for new elections in Israel in March, saying Netanyahu and other extremists in the government were "major obstacles" to peace.

Weeks after supporters of Palestinian rights demanded that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer follow his sharp rebuke of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with "action" to change U.S. policy toward Israel, the New York Democrat's office confirmed Thursday that he is instead planning to invite the right-wing leader to speak before Congress.

"Unbelievable," said Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft executive vice president Trita Parsi, an outspoken critic of the Biden administration's support for Israel's mass killing of civilians in Gaza since October, in response to the news.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) first proposed inviting Netanyahu to give a congressional address in March, and told The Hill that he had sent a draft of the letter inviting the prime minister to Schumer to cosign. At the time, Schumer said he would "always welcome the opportunity for the prime minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way," but he has not signed on to the invitation yet.

"He intends to join the invitation, the timing is being worked out," a spokesperson for Schumer told The Hill on Thursday.

Schumer angered Netanyahu in March by saying on the Senate floor that he has "has lost his way" and is being pushed to "tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza" by far-right extremists in his Cabinet, putting Israel at risk of becoming a "pariah" state.

He said that along with Hamas, Netanyahu and his Cabinet are "major obstacles" to peace in the Middle East and called for new elections in Israel.

Palestinian rights supporters welcomed Schumer's rebuke but called on him to push President Joe Biden to cut off military funding for Israel, which has killed at least 34,622 Palestinians since October and has caused dozens of people to starve to death by blocking humanitarian aid.

Progressive advocate and former congressional candidate Lindsey Boylan said she was "deeply, irretrievably disappointed" in Schumer for planning to invite Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

"Netanyahu has stolen more from his own people than can ever be verbalized," said Boylan. "He is a criminal."

The news of the imminent bipartisan invitation comes as Israel is reportedly preparing to begin a full-scale ground assault on Rafah, where 1.2 million Palestinians have been displaced following the Israel Defense Forces' decimation of cities across Gaza, and as thousands of Americans have been arrested on college campuses in recent weeks for protesting U.S. support for the war.

Hundreds of people were arrested outside Schumer's home in Brooklyn last week for holding a Jewish-led Passover Seder protest in solidarity with Gaza.

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