Kevin McCarthy will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Israel at the end of the month and become the second US House speaker to address the Knesset plenum, his Israeli counterpart Amir Ohana announced on Tuesday.
McCarthy along with 20 other House Democrats and Republicans will arrive in Israel on April 30 and the Republican speaker will address the Knesset the next day, Ohana said.
The Knesset speaker extended the invitation when he called McCarthy in January to congratulate him on being elected speaker of the House after a bitter vote that saw the far-right of the GOP revolt against him. McCarthy and Ohana’s offices held talks about the trip in the months that followed, leading to Tuesday’s announcement.
Only one other House speaker has given a speech in the Knesset plenum — Newt Gingrich in 1998.
“This is a sign and testimony to the strong and unbreakable bond between Israel and its closest ally, the United States of America,” Ohana said in a statement announcing the McCarthy trip. The House speaker’s office did not immediately issue a comment.
McCarthy last month issued a statement of support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one day after US President Joe Biden tore into the Israeli government’s effort to overhaul the judiciary and declared that the Likud leader would not receive a White House invite in the near future.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, statesman, and most importantly, a great friend of the United States of America. Free societies have vigorous and open debate. Israel is no exception. I support Prime Minister Netanyahu, and America’s support for Israel’s strong, vibrant democracy is unwavering. Now is an important time for Americans to stand together in support of our long, mutually respectful, and important friendship with Israel,” McCarthy said at the time.
McCarthy is one of several high-profile American politicians visiting Israel this month.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham met with Netanyahu on Tuesday, passing along messages he received while in Riyadh last week regarding the potential for a US-brokered Saudi-Israel normalization agreement.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — who came under fire this week amid the uncovering of a 1990s op-ed he wrote defending Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — is slated to arrive over the weekend with a delegation of congressional Democrats for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Next week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will arrive for his own Israel trip that is widely seen as a precursor to his bid to become the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election.