US lawmakers are bringing wanted war criminal Netanyahu to Congress

Leading congress members from both major parties invite wanted war criminal to address joint meeting of Congress

June 27, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem

On the last day of May, Congressional leaders from both major parties signed a letter inviting Israeli Prime Minister and wanted war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress. The letter was signed by top Republicans House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as top Democrats Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries. Netanyahu accepted the invitation, and is set to come to Congress on July 24.

The top establishment leaders in Congress often make a show of engaging in pitched battle with one another over issues such as abortion rights, student loans, or gun control, but unconditional support for Israel has always been something that the most powerful politicians are in complete agreement on. 

“To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combating terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,” read the bipartisan invitation letter. 

Since May, both Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have had active arrest warrants issued against them by Kharim Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, both officials are completely immune from arrest within the United States, which is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. 

Gallant himself has been in Washington, DC this week, meeting with US officials in what some are saying is an attempt to bid for more aid and restart weapons shipments that were frozen by President Biden in light of Israel’s invasion of Rafah. Gallant has spoken positively about these meetings, stating that he and US officials “made significant progress, obstacles were removed, and bottlenecks were addressed, in order to advance a variety of issues and more specifically the topic of force build-up and supply of munition.”

Both Gallant’s visit and Netanyahu’s visit have been met with outrage from many in the US. While the base of the Democratic Party, especially young people, are overwhelmingly against sending US aid to Israel, two high ranking Democratic Party officials explicitly invited Netanyahu to Congress in a complete betrayal to their base. According to a CBS News/YouGov poll from June 5 to 7, 61% of people in the US are against sending aid to Israel, including 77% of young people and 79% of people who identified as “liberal” as opposed to “conservative”.

Organizations such as the Palestinian Youth Movement, CODEPINK, Dissenters, and the ANSWER Coalition have organized demonstrations against Gallant’s visit this week. 

Movements in the US are also preparing for a mass mobilization on July 24, when Netanyahu is set to address Congress, organizing busloads of demonstrators who are expected to come from across the country. This demonstration, which is calling for the arrest of Netanyahu under the ICC’s warrant, is being organized by a broad coalition of organizations including the Palestinian Youth Movement, CODEPINK, Al Awda, Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine, US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Writers Against the War on Gaza, United States Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), the ANSWER Coalition, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and dozens more. Ahead of July 24, the organizations are continuing to lobby legislators to cancel the visit.