Netanyahu Invited to Address Congress Amid Division Over Israel-Hamas War

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, earlier this year called for Mr. Netanyahu to step down and for new elections. In response, Mr. Netanyahu assailed Mr. Schumer in a closed-door virtual speech to Senate Republicans. Mr. Schumer at the time had refused to allow Mr. Netanyahu to make a similar address to Senate Democrats, arguing that it was not helpful to Israel for the prime minister to address American lawmakers in a partisan fashion.

Even before the invitation went out on Friday afternoon, the prospect of Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to the Capitol had divided Democrats. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he would boycott a speech from the prime minister, and House progressives said they would plan some sort of gesture to register their opposition to Mr. Netanyahu’s government and to his presence at the Capitol.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said Mr. Schumer should not add his name to the invitation.

But on Friday, Mr. Schumer, along with Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and Mr. Johnson, extended a bipartisan invitation for Mr. Netanyahu to address all of Congress at once in a formal joint meeting of both chambers.

“The existential challenges we face, including the growing partnership between Iran, Russia and China, threaten the security, peace and prosperity of our countries and of free people around the world,” the four leaders wrote in the letter. “To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combating terror and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”

The lack of a date was somewhat unusual for an invitation to a foreign leader.

Mr. Netanyahu last addressed Congress in 2015, during a more formal joint session in which he took the podium before members of the House and Senate to argue strenuously against the policies of President Barack Obama related to a nuclear agreement with Iran. At the time, 58 members of Congress boycotted the speech.

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