Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set Tuesday morning to deliver his highly anticipated speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress even as his appearance has divided two countries. Netanyahu is expected to speak to Congress about the nuclear threat to Israel from Iran against the backdrop of U.S.-led negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program -- a policy that puts Netanyahu at odds with the Obama administration.
Tuesday’s speech spurred partisan debate in Congress, with Democrats accusing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of undermining the president by arranging Netanyahu’s visit without consulting the White House. Among the prominent Democrats who said they would boycott the Israeli prime minister’s speech included U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and U.S. Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., according to the Hill. Critics of the speech have also said it’s inappropriate and constitutes electioneering on the part of Netanyahu because Israeli elections are in two weeks.
Netanyahu’s speech is expected to kick off at 11 a.m. EST Tuesday. Before the address, Boehner said he would welcome the Israeli prime minister by giving him a bust of Winston Churchill, whom Netanyahu will join as the only foreign leader to address Congress three times. Boehner will then gavel the meeting to order and introduce Netanyahu, according to the speaker’s office, which outlined the immense interest in the speech.
“Given the ties between America and Israel, it’s no surprise that interest in attending the speech is high. We’ve had 10 times the number of requests for tickets than there are seats available in the gallery. In fact, demand is so overwhelming that both the House and Senate have set up separate viewing locations, which are also ticketed events,” Boehner’s office said.
But you don’t need a ticket to view the speech. You can watch a live stream of Netanyahu’s address to Congress below: