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Israel's Netanyahu to address joint session of Congress, House Speaker Johnson says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will speak to a joint session of Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced Thursday night. File Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will speak to a joint session of Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced Thursday night. File Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will address a joint session of Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced Thursday, just a handful of days after the International Criminal Court accused the Israeli leader of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The Republican lawmaker made the announcement Thursday night at the National Building Museum, during an event hosted by Israel's embassy in Washington to mark the Middle Eastern country's independence.

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"Tonight, I'm happy to announce something else to you that we will soon be hosting Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Capitol for a joint session of Congress," Johnson said in his keynote speech, without stating when the address would occur.

"This will be a timely and, I think, a very strong show of support to the Israeli government in their time of greatest need."

The announcement comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in March said he had rejected a request from Netanyahu to speak before Congress.

Schumer, the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress, earlier that month made a speech calling for new elections in Israel, while describing the country's leader as having "lost his way" in connection to the Middle Eastern nation's war against Hamas in Gaza.

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On Tuesday, Johnson told reporters that his office had contacted Schumer's a day prior and said that if he does not sign the draft invitation for Netanyahu, he would invite the Israeli leader anyway.

As of Wednesday, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

On Monday, the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced applications for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on allegations of committing numerous war crimes, including using starvation as warfare during the 7-month war.

Applications for arrest warrants were also issued for Yahya Siwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, commander of Hamas's military wing, and Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas's political bureau.

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