Newspaper article Roll Call

Netanyahu Speech Draws Protests, Increased Security

Newspaper article Roll Call

Netanyahu Speech Draws Protests, Increased Security

Article excerpt

Protesters gather outside the Cannon House Office Building before the Netanyahu speech to Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial address to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday drew protests and ramped up security all over Capitol Hill.

The increased security was visible upon entering the Capitol in the morning, with scores of police officers stationed at each entrance, and a group of them concentrated at the north barricade. U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider did not say how many officers were on duty, but wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call, "We do have enhanced security operations in place today" given the Netanyahu speech.

In Upper Senate Park Tuesday morning, a few dozen rabbis with Neturei Karta International, a nonprofit Jewish group that opposes the state of Israel, gathered to protest the speech, with nearly the same number of officers in the park on either side of them. On the other side of the Capitol grounds, protesters organizing with CodePink gathered near the Cannon House Office Building.

After the morning rally, the CodePink protesters entered the House buildings, confronting members of Congress and staffers as they made their way to the Capitol through the basement, imploring them to explain why they were attending the speech.

"We're just appalled that Netanyahu is coming to sabotage very critical, important and positive nuclear talks that are happening. And we don't think he should be interfering with our president's negotiations," CodePink Co-Founder Medea Benjamin said.

Benjamin spotted Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, walking down the hallway between Cannon and Longworth. When Castro said he would not be attending the speech, but was headed to his office, Benjamin surprised the congressman by giving him a hug and exclaiming, "Yay! You're the greatest!"

The handful of protesters in the hallway were allowed to confront the lawmakers and staffers, as a couple of Capitol Police officers stood by and watched. …

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