‘Unbreakable Bond’: US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy Addresses Knesset
by Andrew Bernard
US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Monday addressed the Israeli Knesset, becoming just the second US speaker to address Israel’s parliament in the country’s history.
Speaking at the invitation of his counterpart, Israeli Speaker Amir Ohana, McCarthy stressed the importance of the 75-year-old bond between the US and Israel, the opportunities presented by the Abraham Accords, and the threats posed by Iran.
“We’ve come so far in 75 years, but the promise of the years ahead is just as compelling,” McCarthy said. “I believe the best days for Israel and that unbreakable bond are ahead of us. My greatest hope is that our special relationship can serve as a foundation for greater peace across the Middle East.”
McCarthy cited Iran as the primary threat to that vision of greater peace in the Middle East.
“Iran seeks to destabilize Iraq, it wants to entrench missiles in Syria, It empowers the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, and it is fueling a brutal civil war in Yemen.” he said. “And among all this aggression, it seeks to encircle Israel with hostile forces. We cannot allow the Iranian regime’s evil campaign to succeed. To deter Iran’s dangerous behavior our nations must continue to stand together. We, the United States, integrated Israel into our Central Command and are continuing to carry out military exercises together. As long as I am speaker, America will continue to support full funding for security assistance in Israel.”
McCarthy added that he and his colleagues would also continue to press the United Nations to cease its “outrageous” attacks against Israel on the world stage.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference after the speech, McCarthy had a testy exchange with a Russian reporter who asked about whether McCarthy was opposed to “unlimited” support for Ukraine.
“I vote for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine. I do not support your killing of the children either.”
McCarthy was joined on the trip, his first as Speaker of the House, by a bipartisan delegation of Congressmen that included Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) the former House Majority Leader.
At the press conference, both Hoyer and McCarthy said that they had discussed Israel’s ongoing political crisis in Israel over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reform package, but that the issue was fundamentally one for Israelis to decide.
“Friends give friends advice and counsel,” Hoyer said. “Frankly, I’ve been in the Congress long enough to recall [Prime Minister] Netanyahu coming to the Congress and giving us some advice on policy. We do the same, but the speaker is correct. Ultimately, it is Israelis who will have to make their decision.”
President Biden has been openly critical of the reform proposals and has said that he would not be inviting Netanyahu to Washington “in the near term.” McCarthy said that if Biden did not invite Netanyahu to the White House, he would invite him to the Capitol.
“I would invite [him] and sit with Hakeem Jeffries, who is the Democratic leader, and we would do it in a bipartisan way that we could sit down with the Prime Minister discuss the region, discuss the challenges and ways that we can continue to build our bond stronger, together,” McCarthy said.