Herzog said set to meet Biden, address Congress in July, as Netanyahu still shut out

Hebrew media reports say president will make US trip in third week of July, with address to joint session of Congress expected on July 19; sides do not confirm date

President Isaac Herzog (left) and US President Joe Biden at the White House on October 26, 2022. (GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (left) and US President Joe Biden at the White House on October 26, 2022. (GPO)

President Isaac Herzog has been invited by US President Joe Biden to visit the White House during a trip to address Congress in the third week of July, several Hebrew media outlets reported Tuesday.

It will be Herzog’s second visit to the White House in less than a year, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to be invited to meet with Biden since winning the Israeli elections in November, causing some tension.

Herzog’s office told The Times of Israel that the invitation to meet with Biden was made in November but that Israeli and US officials are still working on a date for Herzog to come.

A White House National Security Council spokesperson similarly said: “We have nothing to announce.”

Though no official date has been set, Hebrew media reports said one will be announced within days. Some reports said the address to Congress was expected on July 19.

Herzog is to give a speech to a joint session of Congress to mark 75 years since Israel’s declaration of independence. Israel celebrated its official Independence Day in April. The invitation to address Congress was extended to Herzog when he was in Washington last October by US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Herzog met with Pelosi during that trip and also with Biden at the White House.

US sources told Channel 12 that Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer were informed about Herzog’s coming trip.

Netanyahu has yet to receive an invitation to visit the White House, six months after entering office, amid tensions with Washington over his government’s intensely divisive efforts to curb the power of the courts and hand greater authority to the executive.

In March, Biden castigated the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul plan and said Netanyahu would not be getting a White House invite in the near future.

Last week, during an interview with the UK’s Sky News, Netanyahu was asked about the delay in being invited to meet Biden and responded that “it will come.”

The judicial overhaul has been frozen since late March as the coalition and opposition attempt to negotiate a compromise following intense public protests by those who believe it will destroy Israeli democracy. Hours after Netanyahu announced the pause, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said he expects the prime minister will meet with Biden “as soon as their schedules can be coordinated.” However, no meeting has come.

In a video address at the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s Independence Day party last week, Herzog said: “I’m looking forward to visiting the United States of America in the near future, to addressing a joint meeting of Congress, visiting my good friends at the White House, and meeting so many other good friends.”

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