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House Speaker to Invite Israel Leader Netanyahu to Address Congress

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., conducts a news conference with members of the House Republican Conference in Cannon building on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, ahead of Thursday’s State of the Union address.

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

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday said that he will invite Israel 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.

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

Schumer last week denounced Netanyahu and called for Israel to hold an election to oust him.

The New York Democrat 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.”

Asked if Schumer would agree to have the Senate convene with the House to hear a speech by Netanyahu, Johnson replied, “I guess we’ll find out.”

“I’m the one that extends the invitations to speak in the House, and if we just have the House that’s fine too,” the speaker said.

“But I think a big majority in the Senate would want to come and stand in support of Netanyahu and Israel.”

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.

A spokesperson for Schumer did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Johnson’s remarks.

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