'One-way lecture': Democratic lawmaker says he won't attend Netanyahu's speech to Congress

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said on Sunday that he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address before Congress in July, saying he won't participate in a “one-way lecture” as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

“If he wants to come to speak to members of Congress about how to end the war and release hostages, I would be fine doing that,” Khanna said on NBC's "Meet the Press'. “But I'm not going to sit in a one-way lecture.”

Khanna is far from alone. The vocal surrogate for President Joe Biden's reelection campaign joins a slew of other Democratic leaders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who in recent weeks have threatened to skip Netanyahu’s July 24 speech.

Progressive Democrats have been particularly critical of how the Israeli leader has handled the war in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in the area. That includes his rejection of a ceasefire deal that would, among other measures, allow Palestinian civilians to receive more aid. Sanders described Netanyahu as a “war criminal” in a statement announcing that he would not attend the address.

Khanna on Sunday also agreed with a statement from Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., that referenced Netanyahu’s relationship with former President Barack Obama. The two leaders had a longstanding dispute about Palestinian statehood, and some lawmakers called Netanyahu's 2015 speech to Congress disrespectful to the former president.

“How he treated President Obama, you should not expect reciprocity,” Khanna said.

Netanyahu's speech marks his fourth appearance before Congress. He also addressed the legislative body in 1996 and 2011.

Some Democrats have welcomed Netanyahu’s speech. For instance, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the highest-ranking Jewish official in American history, said he supported inviting Netanyahu to speak despite his “profound disagreements” criticism of the Israeli leader.

Khanna also noted the need for “decorum” among lawmakers who protest Netanyahu’s visit.

“I think it should be polite,” he said. “We're not going to make a big deal about it.

Contributing: Ken Tran and Riley Beggin, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic lawmaker won't attend Netanyahu's speech to Congress