Mike Johnson Issues Ultimatum To Chuck Schumer: Netanyahu's Congress Address Hangs In Balance

By Tommy Wilson | Thursday, 23 May 2024 10:30 AM
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House Speaker Mike Johnson is poised to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, with or without the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Johnson has issued an ultimatum to Schumer, stating that if the Senate Majority Leader does not endorse the invitation, Johnson will proceed independently.

Earlier this month, Johnson and Schumer announced their intention to invite Netanyahu, although a specific date was not disclosed. Johnson now suspects Schumer of stalling and is prepared to invite Netanyahu to address the House alone.

This development follows Schumer's controversial speech in March, where he labeled Netanyahu as an "obstacle of peace" and called for new elections to replace the Israeli leader. Schumer's interference in Israel's domestic politics, particularly during Netanyahu's ongoing conflict with Hamas, was met with widespread criticism. It is speculated that Schumer's collaboration with Johnson on the invitation to Netanyahu may be an attempt to repair his tarnished image.

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Netanyahu has previously addressed Congress in 2015, where he highlighted the threats posed by Iran and its nuclear weapons program. The relevance of this issue has only increased, as Iran is now believed to be funding a proxy war against Israel through Hamas.

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Johnson has given Schumer until Tuesday evening to sign the letter inviting Netanyahu. If Schumer fails to do so, Johnson will send the invitation with only his signature.

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“My office told Sen. Schumer’s office yesterday that he needed to sign the joint letter,” Johnson said. “And if not, we were gonna proceed and invite Netanyahu just to the House.”

Schumer responded vaguely, stating that he was working with Johnson on the details but did not provide any specifics. He reiterated his commitment to the US-Israel relationship, stating, “As I have always said, our relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends any one prime minister or president."

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However, Schumer's definition of an 'ironclad' relationship appears to differ from the conventional understanding. His Senate speech was reportedly delivered on behalf of President Biden, who has repeatedly wavered in his public support for Netanyahu and Israel. Biden has been accused of siding with Hamas to appeal to Muslim Arab American voters, particularly in areas such as Dearborn, Michigan.

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The invitation to Netanyahu also coincides with the Israeli Prime Minister facing an arrest warrant application from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over allegations of war crimes. The warrant has been condemned by lawmakers from both parties, and the Biden administration has opposed the move.

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In response, House Republican leaders have proposed a bill that would sanction any foreign person involved in an ICC effort to investigate or arrest a U.S. citizen or an official from an allied U.S. country. Neither the United States nor Israel are signatories of the Rome Statute, the document that established the ICC.

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The invitation is likely to face opposition from the Democrat Party's Hamas wing, which opposes foreign aid to Israel and advocates for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Johnson, however, appears ready to proceed alone if necessary. Despite Netanyahu's mixed popularity as a political leader, his handling of the war against Hamas has garnered significant support among Israelis.

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