Exclusive: Mike Johnson says Schumer will sign letter inviting Netanyahu to give joint address to Congress

House Speaker Mike Johnson has told The Independent that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would sign a letter inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a joint address to Congress.

Mr Johnson had previously urged the Democratic leader of the Senate to sign a letter allowing Mr Netanyahu to deliver a joint address to Congress.

After votes on Wednesday, the Republican Speaker said that Mr Schumer had agreed to do so.

“I spoke with him today and he’s going to sign the letter jointly and it’ll get out to the prime minister this week,” Mr Johnson told The Independent.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson at a weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on May 22, 2024 flanked by House Majority leader Steve Scalise (Getty Images)

The Speaker did not have a date set. “No, I’m going to talk about prime minister Netanyahu about that today,” he said.

The invitation comes despite the fact that Mr Schumer has previously called for new elections in Israel and criticised Israel’s execution of its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Mr Johnson and Mr Schumer, along with nearly every major elected leader in Washington, condemned the International Criminal Court’s announcement earlier this week that it would seek arrest warrants for Mr Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and senior Hamas officials.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) both have vocally supported Israel throughout their careers. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Biden administration said on Wednesday that it had not been made aware of a planned visit by Mr Netanyahu.

“So we have not at this point heard from the Prime Minister on a joint address to the Congress, the president talks to the prime minister in fact, he just talked to him not too long ago, senior administration officials engaged with him I just did so over the weekend,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. “So we’ll stay in touch with the prime minister and obviously we’ll stay in touch with the Congress and see what happens.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer with senators Amy Klobuchar and Debbie Stabenow on May 22, 2024 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and Mr Netanyahu have been at odds over Israel’s plan to attack Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. The Biden administration recently paused the shipment of 2,000-lb bombs to Israel and Mr Biden said the US won’t supply Israel with offensive weapons for use in a ground offensive that endangers the Palestinian civilians who’ve taken shelter in the city.

Some Democrats denounced a potential visit by the Israeli PM.

“I think that the presence of Netanyahu here for a joint address is an incredibly divisive and unproductive activity,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent.

“I think given the fact that he has led a military campaign in Gaza which has created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern history, where hundreds of thousands of people now face starvation, I think inviting Mr Netanyahu to Congress is not a good idea,” Senator Bernie Sanders also told The Independent.

The announcement comes as Ireland, Noway and Spain announced their recognition of Palestinian state on Wednesday.

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