Sanders reups vow to boycott ‘war criminal’ Netanyahu’s address to Congress

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) re-upped his vow to boycott “war criminal” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress and again slammed the leader’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

“Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal,” Sanders said in a statement released on Saturday. “He should not be invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. I certainly will not attend.”

Sanders’ rebuke of Netanyahu and Israel’s bombardment of Gaza comes as he was officially invited to address Congress, The Hill first reported on Friday. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) sent Netanyahu a formal invitation that was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). The address is expected “as soon as the next eight weeks or soon after August recess,” a source familiar told The Hill.

The progressive Democrat previously said he would not attend any speech by Netanyahu in Congress, saying last week that Israel created “the worst humanitarian disaster in modern history.” That week, Johnson was pushing to get Netanyahu to address Congress. Schumer, who previously slammed the prime minister and called for new elections in the country, said he was open to signing the invitation.

In his statement on Saturday, Sanders said it was a “sad day” for the U.S. that Netanyahu was invited by leaders of both political parties. He reiterated that Israel has the right to defend itself following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the southern part of the country where around 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 were taken hostage. But, the Vermont senator, strongly criticized Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, slamming it for the number of civilians killed, the damage to the infrastructure and the destruction of the health care system in the region.

“Israel does not have the right to kill more than 34,000 civilians and wound over 80,000 – 5% of the population of Gaza. It does not have the right to orphan 19,000 children. It does not have the right to displace 75% of the people of Gaza from their homes,” Sanders said.

“It does not have the right to annihilate Gaza’s health care system, knocking 26 hospitals out of service and killing more than 400 health care workers,” he continued. “It does not have the right to bomb all 12 of Gaza’s universities and 56 of its schools, or deny 625,000 children in Gaza the opportunity for an education.”

He also said Israel does not have the right to block humanitarian aid and the Jewish state is in violation of the “American and international law.”

“It does not have the right to condemn hundreds of thousands of children to death by starvation,” he said while also voicing his support for International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“The ICC is right,” Sanders said. “Both of these people are engaged in clear and outrageous violations of international law.”

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