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Date for Netanyahu address to Congress still up in the air

Congressional leaders are still working to finalize a date for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a joint address to Congress, according to Speaker Mike Johnson‘s office.

That comes after a person familiar with the planning initially indicated Netanyahu would speak to Congress on June 13, as President Joe Biden pushes both the allied country and Hamas to agree to the terms of a permanent ceasefire. That date, however, would fall on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

“The Speaker’s office is still coordinating with all relevant parties to establish a date for Prime Minister Netanyahu to deliver a joint address to Congress,” a spokesperson for Johnson said on Monday. “We will announce a date once it is finalized.”

The prime minister’s office confirmed in an email to POLITICO that no date has yet been set for the address.

The four leaders of Congress issued the joint invitation on Friday and Netanyahu accepted over the weekend.

Democrats have been split over support for Israel since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, with many liberals lambasting Netanyahu’s harsh tactics in a war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths in Palestine. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an outspoken progressive, said he wouldn’t attend the prime minister’s address.

“Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal,” Sanders said in a statement over the weekend. “He should not be invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. I certainly will not attend.”

Meanwhile, Biden is pushing a permanent cease-fire agreement that Israel’s war cabinet proposed against Netanyahu’s wishes. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday that if Hamas accepts the deal to end the Gaza war, he expects Israel to accept the plan, too.

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