Friday 14 June 2024

Democrats Plan to Protest, Disrupt Netanyahu Speech to Congress

 Democrats plan to disrupt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a special joint session of Congress on July 24 in an unprecedented show of hostility to the democratically-elected leader of a close American ally.

56 Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s speech in 2015, when Republicans invited him to argue against then-President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. This time, Axios reports, “Democrats plan to go bigger than a boycott”:

The proposals include a press conference, a vigil, or an event with families of those taken hostage by Hamas, many of whom feel Netanyahu hasn’t done enough to free their loved ones.

In a sign of how extensive and high-level some of these discussions are, former House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Politico he was participating in one counter-programming meeting.

Several progressive House members are planning to attend the speech but disrupt it, one lawmaker said.

The speech may be especially awkward, given that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called earlier this year for Netanyahu to be ousted in new elections. The Biden administration has been trying to undermine the Israeli leader since he was elected in November 2022, with the exception of a brief period when Israel and Saudi Arabia were near a peace deal before October 7 last year.

Netanyahu, like most Israelis, opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. The Biden administration has been pushing for a Palestinian state as the outcome of the war started by Hamas. It has also begun sanctioning right-wing Israelis in a nod to the anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, sanctions” movement.

Republican leaders, notably Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), pressed for an invitation to Netanyahu as a show of solidarity with Israel — and as a contrast to the administration’s public criticism of the Israeli government.

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