Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin NetanyahuGPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is tentatively scheduled to speak virtually to Senate Republicans during their regular lunch meeting Wednesday, Axios reported on Tuesday, citing two Senate sources familiar with the plan.

The report noted that Netanyahu was slated to talk with Republicans during their policy retreat last week, but that plan fell through. Both times he has been invited by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the third-ranked Senate Republican.

The invitation to speak on Wednesday follows Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) controversial speech in which he called for elections for a new government in Israel and harshly criticized Netanyahu as a “threat to peace”.

It also comes amid growing tension between President Joe Biden and Netanyahu. While Biden was initially supportive of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, he has changed his tone recently.

During a recent interview with MSNBC, Biden said that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a red line but also said in the same breath that crossing it would not result in punitive measures against Israel.

“It is a red line, but I am never going to leave Israel,” Biden said. “The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line I’m going to cut off all weapons.”

He also criticized Netanyahu and asserted that the Prime Minister “hurts Israel more than he protects” it.

Netanyahu later responded to Biden, telling Politico, "I don't know exactly what the President meant, but if he meant by that that I'm pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis, and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he's wrong on both counts."

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan subsequently tried to walk back Biden’s comments.

“The President didn't make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements. The red line came up in a question he was responding to that question. I think he gave a full answer to it,” Sullivan told reporters.

According to Axios, Biden also assured Netanyahu during a Monday phone call that he is not trying to undermine him.