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Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu set to address the US Congress on July 24


But Netanyahu’s office stressed that the war sparked by the October 7 attacks would continue until Israel’s “goals are achieved”, including the destruction of Hamas, which has not given its response to the plan.

Israeli soldiers stand on top of a tank near the Israel-Gaza border. Photo: Reuters

The four top party leaders in the US House and Senate from both sides asked Netanyahu last week to speak before a joint meeting of Congress in a letter voicing solidarity with Israel “in your struggle against terror, especially as Hamas continues to hold American and Israeli citizens captive”.

Netanyahu’s visit “symbolises the US and Israel’s enduring relationship and will offer … Netanyahu the opportunity to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending their democracy, combating terror, and establishing just and lasting peace in the region,” House Speaker Mike Johnson and top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

In the statement, Netanyahu said: “I am very moved to have the privilege of representing Israel before both Houses of Congress and to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us to the representatives of the American people and the entire world”.

It was not immediately clear if Netanyahu would meet with Biden during his US visit. Biden has privately and publicly criticised Netanyahu’s handling of the war and criticised the Israeli government for not letting more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The visit comes after Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called in March for Israel to hold new elections in a rare example of strident criticism from a senior American official of the country’s handling of the war in Gaza.

In a statement Thursday evening, Schumer said he invited Netanyahu to speak despite “clear and profound disagreements … because America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister”.

The rebuke from Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish American in history, came amid expressions of dismay from progressive Democrats who have condemned Netanyahu over his handling of the military response and vowed to snub the right-wing leader’s speech.

Hamas attacked Israeli territory last October 7, killing around 1,200 people and capturing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. About half the hostages were freed in the November truce.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last address to the US Congress in 2015. File photo: AFP

Israel in response launched a military assault on Gaza that has since killed more than 36,650 people, according to health officials in the territory, who say thousands more dead are feared buried under the rubble.

A Gaza hospital said Thursday at least 37 people had been killed in an Israeli strike on a UN-run school that the Israeli military alleged housed a Hamas compound.

US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have resumed talks aimed at securing a truce and hostage-prisoner swap in the nearly eight-month war.

But the nation has faced a mounting diplomatic chill, with international court cases accusing it of war crimes and several European countries recognising a Palestinian state.

US media reported on Monday that Netanyahu had agreed to visit on June 13, but his office told Israeli media the date had “not been finalised” and would not be on that date because it interferes with a Jewish holiday.

This would be the prime minister’s fourth speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the first foreign leader to do so that many times. According to the US House website, Winston Churchill was the only other foreign leader to address the House and Senate three times.

In 2015, Netanyahu used one of those addresses to denounce the Iran nuclear accord, angering the Obama administration.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg



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