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McCarthy to become first US House speaker to address Israeli parliament in 25 years

Republican House speaker will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), speaks at the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., Mar. 25, 2019. (Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto)

California Republican Kevin McCarthy is scheduled to become the second U.S. House speaker ever to address the Israeli parliament at a full session of the Knesset planned for the end of the month.

The only other U.S. House speaker to make a speech before the Knesset was Newt Gingrich 25 years ago, in 1998. 

Accepting an invitation from Israel’s parliament speaker, Amir Ohana, McCarthy will lead a bipartisan delegation of 20 Republicans and Democratic Congress members, who will be arriving in Israel on April 30 to join the State of Israel’s 75th Independence Day celebrations. 

McCarthy mentioned the upcoming trip on his social media account, and noted it will be his first official visit abroad since taking office.

“My first trip abroad as Speaker will be a return to Israel to commemorate their 75th year of statehood,” he wrote. “The US-Israel relationship is as important as ever, and I’m proud to accept @AmirOhana’s invitation.” 

Announcing his official guest, Ohana described McCarthy as a “real friend of Israel” who “has been for his entire career.” 

“I think this thing is a testament to the strong and unbreakable connection between Israel and its closest ally, the United States of America,” Ohana said.

On Wednesday, Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency compared the Republican speaker’s warm invitation to the “chill in relations” between U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, three weeks after Biden told reporters that he would not be inviting Netanyahu to the White House “in the near term.”

By contrast, McCarthy in late March described Netanyahu as a “great friend of the United States.”

“Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, statesman, and most importantly, a great friend of the USA,” McCarthy wrote

The media has presumed that Biden’s coolness toward the Israeli premier is linked to extensive criticism against Israel’s ruling coalition over ongoing judicial reforms in the Jewish state.

McCarthy’s statement of support for Netanyahu was also a nod to the ongoing judicial overhaul in Israel as an example of the “vigorous and open debate” of free societies. “Israel is no exception” to this, he said.

“I support Prime Minister Netanyahu, and America’s support for Israel’s strong, vibrant democracy is unwavering,” McCarthy said. “Now is an important time for Americans to stand together in support of our long, mutually respectful and important friendship with Israel.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, also is scheduled to visit Israel this month. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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