Schumer justifies congressional invite to Netanyahu amid liberal outrage

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., clarified his choice to join House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., in extending an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the move prompted backlash by progressive Democrats.

“I have clear and profound disagreements with the Prime Minister, which I have voiced both privately and publicly and will continue to do so,” Schumer prefaced in a statement late Thursday night.

“But because America’s relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends one person or prime minister, I joined the request for him to speak,” he said.

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The majority leader’s statement came on the heels of a date being announced for Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress. The Israeli leader will deliver remarks to the lawmakers on July 24, ahead of the August recess. 

The invitation was accepted by Netanyahu, who 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.”

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Prior to Schumer’s clarifying statement, progressive lawmakers made their disapproval known, with some revealing their plans not to attend Netanyahu’s address. 

“It is a very sad day for our country that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited – by leaders from both parties – to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a recent statement, also slamming Netanyahu as a “war criminal.”

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) requested warrants last month for both Hamas and Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu. The body suggested that all parties had committed “war crimes.” The ICC decision has been widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans, including President Biden. 

Sanders said he would not be attending the address. 

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“I don’t plan to attend, and I will plan to participate in whatever advocacy is being done to push for Netanyahu and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire,” Rep. Greg Casar, D-Texas, told Fox News Digital.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., suggested she may not go either, recently saying, “I certainly do not approve of it, potentially may not attend.”

Schumer’s office did not provide comment when asked whether his statement was a direct response to displeased progressives.

The majority leader called on Israel to hold new elections earlier this year, specifically urging the country to replace Netanyahu as its prime minister. At the time, Schumer claimed the Israeli leader had “lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.” 

Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report. 

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