UPDATED – Congressman Hakeem Jeffries‘ office today confirmed that he will attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a join session of Congress next Tuesday.
“Rep. Jeffries will attend the speech. He has communicated that decision to his constituents,” Jeffries’s spokesperson Michael Hardaway said in an email.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke remains undecided on whether she will attend the speech.
The announcement came following a mass personal email that Leon Goldenberg and Chaskel Bennett of the Brooklyn branch of the Orthodox Agudah of Israel put out calling on members to lobby several local Congress members, including Jeffries, Clarke and Nydia Velazquez, to attend the speech.
Velazquez’s office did not return calls at press time. While most members of the Black Congressional Caucus said they will not attend the speech, Jeffries has always been a strong vocal supporter of Israel.
Netanyahu broke American protocol in accepting House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to speak to Congress without the permission of President Obama. The American Constitution grants the executive branch the power to determine and set foreign policy.
Further, Netanyhu is up for Israeli re-election and traditionally the United States does not invite leaders from ally countries to speak when they are up for re-election.
The speech comes at a time when the United States is reportedly close to a nuclear agreement with Iran – an agreement Israel strongly opposes.