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Speaker Mike Johnson said he anticipates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will accept an invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress this year.

The date’s set: Netanyahu to address Congress July 24

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Washington to address Congress on July 24, setting up a major inflection point in the war just one week before the August recess.

We scooped the news on the Punchbowl News text platform Thursday evening.

Top aides to Netanyahu and Speaker Mike Johnson have been going back and forth all week in search of a date before the August recess and decided on July 24 late Thursday.

This will be Netanyahu’s fourth time addressing a joint meeting of Congress and his first time since 2015 when he came to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers to reject then-President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

That address, under then-Speaker John Boehner, was very controversial. But this speech may be even more divisive, if possible.

Some Democrats in the House and Senate have condemned the longtime Israeli premier, saying he’s uncensored about mass Palestinian civilian casualties during the now eight-month-long war. Republicans, meanwhile, have backed Netanyahu in his stated mission of rooting out Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

We’ve heard from several House Democrats that they will boycott the speech or protest during the proceedings. Sources close to Netanyahu say that would help the prime minister with his own domestic politics, as he wrestles with his fragile governing coalition, which includes several right-wing ministers.

But here’s a curveball: What happens if Israel and Hamas strike a ceasefire before the speech? That could dramatically change the dynamics of this address. Several top Biden administration officials are heading back to the region in another bid to bring about a ceasefire deal.

— Jake Sherman

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