Netanyahu Invited to Speak to Congress amidst Joint ‘Struggle against Terror’

PM Netanyahu has been invited to travel from Israel to speak to the US Congress. Netanyahu with the American backdrop at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / GPO

The two main political parties in the United States Congress rarely agree, but leaders from both sides both reaffirmed their support for Israel last week. The top four members of the US Senate and House—in a letter published on House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson’s page on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday—issued a bipartisan invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The letter notes that the US lawmakers “join the State of Israel in your struggle against terror, especially as Hamas continues to hold American and Israeli citizens captive and its leaders jeopardize regional stability.”

Netanyahu accepted the invite with deep appreciation. In a statement translated from Hebrew and published by his office on Saturday evening, the leader 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.”

The invitation comes against the backdrop of intense international pressure on Israel to stop the war with the Hamas terrorist group. Despite Hamas instigating the war by killing 1,200 Israelis—mostly civilians—and kidnapping hundreds more among other brutal war crimes, and despite Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, The International Criminal Court (ICC) has hosted unfounded accusations of Israeli war crimes. That includes ICC prosecutor Karim Khan applying for an arrest warrant for Netanyahu.

There is bipartisan opposition in the US to Khan’s interest in arresting Netanyahu for alleged war crimes. Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, in a May 24 post to X, said the “ICC’s decision was made in bad faith” and endorsed US sanctions against the ICC. He noted the ICC move “completely ignored the Rome statute’s principle of complementarity”, or refraining from prosecuting persons in a nation with a sufficient justice system to address its own matters internally.

Wrote Graham on X: “Israel and the United States are robust democracies with independent judicial systems. In the past, the ICC has threatened action against our soldiers for operations in Afghanistan. Under the theory espoused by the ICC to go after Israel, America would be a target.”

Politico has reported that the Biden Administration strongly disagreed with the ICC, but is opposed to sanctioning the court—whereas the Trump Administration did issue sanctions over ICC investigations against the US and Israel. 

While not commenting on sanctions, US Senator John Fetterman—from the Democrat party opposing Graham’s Republicans—also criticized the ICC in a May 23 post on X. Commenting on an editorial in The Jerusalem Post opposing a Palestinian state as a reward for Hamas’ terror attack on October 7, Fetterman wrote: “Some members of Congress refuse to condemn this raw brutality. Calling for a Palestinian state or supporting the ICC request for arrest warrants—it’s all a warped interpretation of justice, but also anathema to peace and bringing all hostages back home.”

Now, Netanyahu will have the opportunity to make his position clear to Congress in person after the horrific events of October 7. And the American lawmakers recognize that Israel isn’t alone in facing the threats posed by Hamas and its allies.

Said the US Congressional letter inviting Netanyahu to speak, “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.

“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, combatting terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region.”  

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 2, 2024)

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