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Johnson Says He Will Invite Netanyahu to Address Congress

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Thursday that he planned to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address a joint session of Congress, moving to welcome a leader who has become a flashpoint for partisan disagreement in American politics over the war in Gaza.

Mr. Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, brought up the invitation one day after Mr. Netanyahu assailed Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, in a private meeting with Senate Republicans for a speech in which the New York Democrat singled him out as an impediment to peace and called for eventual elections to replace him.

“I would love to have him come and address a joint session of Congress; we’ll certainly extend that invitation,” Mr. Johnson said of Mr. Netanyahu in an interview on CNBC. Mr. Johnson said he had also been invited to speak in front of the Israeli Knesset.

Mr. Schumer on Wednesday declined a request from Mr. Netanyahu to speak virtually to Senate Democrats at their own closed-door party lunch, saying it was not helpful to Israel for discussions with the prime minister to happen in a partisan forum.

But on Thursday, he said he would support an address by the Israeli prime minister in front of the entire Congress if Mr. Johnson moved forward with the invitation.

“Israel has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one prime minister,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “I will always welcome the opportunity for the prime minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way.”

The statement came a week after Mr. Schumer delivered an explosive speech on the Senate floor in which he harshly criticized Mr. Netanyahu, naming him and his right-wing coalition alongside Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, as the main obstacles to peace.

The remarks and the Republican backlash that has followed have underscored a growing partisan divide in the United States over Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership as Israel’s war against Hamas rages on, and a struggle between members of both parties to define themselves as the true allies of the Jewish state.

A spokesman said that Mr. Johnson had not yet discussed any plans with Mr. Schumer, who would have to sign off on any invitation for an address before a joint session of Congress.

Mr. Netanyahu enraged Democrats in 2015 by accepting an invitation from Republicans who then controlled the House and Senate to deliver an address to Congress condemning the Iran nuclear deal as the Obama administration was negotiating it.

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