No. 2 Senate Democrat: I would not have invited Netanyahu to address Congress

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2-ranking Senate Democratic leader, on Tuesday said he would not have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress.

Durbin broke with the top four congressional leaders — Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – who invited Netanyahu in a May 31 to address Congress.

“I’ve been waiting for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to embrace a two-state solution, which I believe is the only way to go forward in Israel,” Durbin told reporters.

“I would not have sent the letter of invitation,” he said when asked whether Netanyahu should address Congress.

“Until he embraces a two-state solution, I don’t think we can realistically expect this conflict to end,” Durbin said.

A tentative plan to have Netanyahu speak to lawmakers on June 13 while President Biden is scheduled to be in Italy for a summit was ruled out Monday because it falls on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Progressives ranging from Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) have criticized Republicans for leading the push to invite Netanyahu to the Capitol.

Netanyahu over the weekend largely ignored a peace plan laid out by President Biden, saying the conditions for ending the war in Gaza have “not changed.”

Biden said in a May 28 interview with Time magazine that there is “every reason” to believe Netanyahu is prolonging the war to remain in power.

Netanyahu earlier this year rejected calls for Palestinian statehood, warning it would pose a threat to Israeli security.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan – and this is contrary to a Palestinian state,” he posted on the social media site X in January.

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