Clyburn says he won’t attend Netanyahu’s address to Congress

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Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Sunday said he is not planning to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress in the wake of Israel’s wartime campaign in Gaza and the leader’s past tensions with former President Obama.

“When it comes to that joint session, I do not plan to attend it,” Clyburn said on NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday.” “Because I’m going to treat him the same way he treated Barack Obama, but I am going to participate with a group of others in an alternative session to his joint session to see what now we can get some attention to what makes sense.”

Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of Congress on July 24, which immediately drew disapproval from some progressive Democrats, who are critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that has left more than 37,000 people dead since early October, per local health officials. Like Clyburn, some Democrats have already vowed to skip the event and boycott the speech.

The slated address will mark the fourth time Netanyahu has delivered a speech before a joint meeting of Congress, following visits to the U.S. in 2015, 2011 and 1996. In his latest visit, more than 50 Democrats skipped the address after former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited the Israeli leader without first telling the White House under Obama.

Obama and Netanyahu had a long-running feud in 2015 over Netanyahu’s position on Palestinian statehood and the U.S.’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Clyburn, who has been a longtime supporter of Obama, said Sunday he is looking to see a two-state solution in the Middle East.

“You must remember that Barack Obama attempted to push that issue, Joe Biden is pushing that issue, and, on every front, Netanyahu has been opposing that,” Clyburn said.

His comments come days after the NAACP wrote a letter to Biden, urging him to halt the sale of weapons to Israel. Clyburn said he “stands” with the NAACP.

“I support what the NAACP is doing, but I’m also a legislator supporting this administration. And I do know that when you’re trying to find common ground, you cannot have it your way, totally all the time,” he said. “So Joe Biden is working hard trying to find common ground with the people of Israel. And most people of Israel are against what Netanyahu is doing.”

Israel’s war with Hamas has raged on for more than eight months following the militant group’s Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, during which they killed about 1,200 people and kidnapped about 250 others.

Updated on June 10 at 8:44 a.m. EDT

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