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US: Congressional leaders extend invitation to Netanyahu to deliver speech at Capitol Hill

News Agencies | Updated on: 1 June 2024, 9:04 IST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (File)

Washington, DC [US]: Congressional leaders extended an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session on Capitol Hill, emphasising "America's solidarity with Israel" in the wake of the October 7 terror attack perpetrated by Hamas, The New York Post reported.

In a joint letter penned by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La), Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Netanyahu was invited to speak, echoing previous sentiments of support for Israel expressed during President Isaac Herzog's visit to Washington last year.

"Last year, Congress was proud to host Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Washington to celebrate 75 years of friendship and partnership between our two democracies," the so-called "Gang of Four" wrote to Netanyahu.

"Less than three months later, the horrific attacks of October 7th shocked the world and forced your nation into a fight for its very existence. We 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."

The invitation comes amid lingering tensions between the Biden administration and Israel over differing approaches to handling the conflict with Hamas, as reported by The New York Post. Hamas' October 7th attack resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, and 33 Americans.

Netanyahu responded by declaring war on the terror group, vowing to eliminate it from the Gaza Strip. However, the conflict has resulted in significant casualties in Gaza, with the death toll reaching nearly 35,000, according to figures provided by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health.

These numbers, however, do not distinguish between terrorists and civilians and may be inflated. President Biden and his administration have previously criticized Netanyahu's leadership during the conflict and withheld some munitions shipments to the IDF, sparking bipartisan backlash.

Biden recently called for Israel to withdraw entirely from the conflict, asserting that Hamas was no longer capable of carrying out another attack similar to October 7th.

Meanwhile, the IDF has intensified its military campaign in southern Gaza, targeting Hamas strongholds, including Rafah.


First published: 1 June 2024, 9:04 IST