Israeli President to depart for US, visit to include address to Congress

Middle East | July 16, 2023 11:43:28 PM IST
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Tel Aviv [Israel], July 16 (ANI/TPS): Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be leaving for an official diplomatic visit to the US on Sunday night.

Herzog’s visit will culminate in an address to a joint session of Congress on July 19. This address follows the invitation of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi and the current Speaker, Kevin McCarthy. The joint session is meant to mark the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

The only other Israeli president to address both chambers of Congress was Herzog’s father, Chaim, in November 1987.

McCarthy travelled to Israel in May and addressed the Knesset, becoming only the second-ever person in his post to address the legislature in Jerusalem.

The July 18-22 visit also includes a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House. According to a statement issued by Herzog’s office, Biden and Herzog are “expected to discuss a series of political, security and economic issues.” It is widely believed that Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul initiative will be the major focus of their talks.

US lawmakers have told the Tazpit Press Service Biden is snubbing Netanyahu over a disagreement about the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. president said in March that he has no plans to invite Netanyahu in the “near term.”

“I believe that at the core of this tension is President Biden and his administration’s refusal to support one of our greatest allies. In the past, the United States' steadfast support for Israel was unquestioned. However, the Biden administration continually failed to live up to this standard,” Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) told TPS.

Returning the US to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iranian nuclear agreement, has been a key foreign policy goal of the Biden administration, which is opposed by Israel and the Gulf states.

While uranium needs to be only 3.67 per cent pure to generate nuclear power, Iran has enriched its uranium stockpile to 60 per cent, a degree of purity that no country without an atomic weapon has pursued. A nuclear bomb requires uranium to be enriched to 90 per cent purity.

Israel and the Gulf states also fear that a premature lifting of sanctions will enable Tehran to boost its support for terror proxies across the Middle East. Removing sanctions would give Tehran access to around USD 100 billion in frozen assets.

The lifting of sanctions would also give Iran fresh revenue from oil sales. Iran stands to make an estimated USD 55 billion from selling oil, and that profit will likely be higher with the war in Ukraine triggering higher energy prices.

Herzog is also scheduled to meet with American Jewish leaders in New York. (ANI/TPS)