Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday he believed it was inappropriate for lawmakers to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, and reiterated his plans to boycott any speech the leader may give in Washington.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced the invitation late last month, which was 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.).

But Sanders told NBC’s Chris Hayes that despite the bipartisan invitation, he believed there had been “very little debate” in the Democratic caucus as to whether an address was a good idea.

“I think I speak not just for myself, but for a number of other senators who think that that decision is a very, very bad one,” Sanders said. “You do not honor a foreign leader by addressing a joint session of Congress who is currently engaged in the worst humanitarian disaster in the modern history of this country.”

“Obviously, as we all know, Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas terrorism and the terrible attack of Oct. 7, but what it is doing now is going to [be] war against the entire Palestinian people.”

“What we are seeing now is starvation and famine impacting thousands and thousands of children,” he went on. “The architect of that policy is not somebody you honor by bringing to the United States Congress.”

Other Democrats have voiced their concern with a joint address of Congress. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chamber’s majority whip, said he worried Netanyahu’s visit would be “politically divisive” and said he would have preferred an invitation be put on hold until Israel agreed to a two-state solution.

President Joe Biden has been working to broker a cease-fire deal between Netanyahu’s government and Israel. But the president recently said in an interview there was “every reason” to believe the Israeli leader was prolonging the war to remain in power.

Sanders has pledged to boycott the address and rejected claims from Johnson that he was supportive of terrorists by voicing his opposition to the Israeli leader.

“It is a disgusting lie,” the Vermont lawmaker said. “I guess, if you are part of the MAGA group, right-wing Republicans, big lies are what you do. You say lies over and over again, and you hope people believe them.”


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