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US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed from role in historic first, says he won’t run again

Israeli counterpart Amir Ohana says McCarthy is 'a true friend of Israel'

Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters after he was ousted from the position of Speaker by a vote of the House of Representatives, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., October 3, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

A showdown at the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday ended up with an historic first when Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted.

Eight Republican representatives teamed up with every House democrat that was present and voted 216 to 201 to remove McCarthy from his role.

Israeli counterpart, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, thanked McCarthy on X (formerly Twitter) and posted a shared picture of them.

“Kevin McCarthy is a true friend of Israel, in every role he has served,” Ohana wrote.

“As Speaker of the House, he did more than any other to strengthen the bond between our legislatures, and chose the Knesset to be the first parliament he visited outside of America. As Speaker of the Knesset, I am grateful for everything he has done to promote US-Israel relations and Knesset-Congress ties. I'm sure there is more to come. Thank you Kevin,” he added.

McCarthy has led several congressional delegations to Israel both as House speaker and as a minority leader. During his last visit in May, he promised to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington if President Joe Biden didn't.

McCarthy also became the first U.S. House speaker to address the Israeli parliament in 25 years. In his speech, he said: “America is grateful for our friendship with Israel, we are a better nation because of it, and we must never shy away from defending it.”

The resolution against McCarthy was filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Monday night. Gaetz pushed the measure after McCarthy cut a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown with the passing of a temporary funding bill, that was signed by Biden on Saturday.

Gaetz, along with ten other hardline Republicans, voted with every Democrat to advance the motion to vacate the speaker’s chair. They accused McCarthy of breaking his word after they helped him win his position in January, following 15 embarrassing rounds of votes.

McCarthy held a lengthy press conference on Tuesday night, in which publicly announced that he will not run again for the speakership.

"I may have lost the vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber, I feel fortunate to serve the American people. I leave the speakership with a sense of pride and accomplishment, and yes, optimism," McCarthy said.

"I believe I can continue to fight — maybe in a different manner. I will not run for speaker again. I'll have the conference pick somebody else."

The ousted speaker implied that Gaetz, who spearheaded the motion, was doing so to personally go after him and not for the good of the country.

"Look, you all know Matt Gaetz. You know it was personal," McCarthy said. "It had nothing to do about spending. It had nothing to do about — everything he accused somebody of, he was doing. It all was about getting attention from you.”

Gaetz responded on Fox News, saying that McCarthy “was willing to partner with conservatives on the frivolous, but whenever there was a spending matter, he partnered with Democrats."

"We should get to electing a new, more conservative, more trustworthy speaker immediately," Gaetz insisted. "This is not the time to go home for a week. We should stay and elect a new speaker."

The House is scheduled to hold a speaker election next Wednesday.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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