(Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 12:42 PM – Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is set to visit Israel on April 30th and will address the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, becoming the first Speaker to do since Gingrich in 1998.
The Knesset speaker, Amir Ohana, extended the invitation to McCarthy when he called him to congratulate him on his election for Speaker of the House in January. The offices of the two Speakers coordinate the trip in the months that followed, ultimately leading up to the announcement about the trip on Tuesday.
In a statement announcing McCarthy’s trip, Ohana said that this is a strong sign of the bond between the two nations.
“This is a sign and testimony to the strong and unbreakable bond between Israel and its closest ally, the United States of America,” he said.
McCarthy accepted the invitation, stating that the relationship between the two nations is “as important as ever.”
“My first trip abroad as Speaker will be a return to Israel to commemorate their 75th year of statehood. The US-Israel relationship is as important as ever,” he said. “And I’m proud to accept Amir Ohana’s invitation as the 2nd Speaker of the House in history to address the Knesset.”
My first trip abroad as Speaker will be a return to Israel to commemorate their 75th year of statehood.
The US-Israel relationship is as important as ever, and I’m proud to accept @AmirOhana’s invitation as the 2nd Speaker of the House in history to address the Knesset. 🇺🇸🇮🇱
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) April 18, 2023
McCarthy issued a statement in March expressing his support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after President Joe Biden had criticized the Israeli government for their attempt at changing the judiciary, while saying that he will not extend the Israeli leader an invitation to the White House in the 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 had said.
Along with McCarthy, several high-profile American politicians are visiting Israel this month to meet with Israeli officials.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday. During their meeting, the senator had delivered messages from Saudi Arabia that he received while he was in Riyadh for the potential U.S.-brokered Saudi-Israel normalization agreement.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is set to arrive in Israel on April 21st with a delegation of Democrats to meet with officials from both Israel and Palestine.
The Trip by Jeffries comes as he facing criticism due to the unearthing of an op-ed that he had written in the 1990s defending the anti-Semitic views held by his uncle, Leonard Jeffries, as well as defending Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Jeffries’ office released a statement saying that Leader Jeffries does not agree with his uncle’s views, who denigrated jews by comparing them to “dogs” and “skunks” according to CNN.
“Leader Jeffries has consistently been clear that he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over thirty years ago,” spokesperson Christiana Stephenson said.
Jeffries also maintained that he only has a “vague recollection” of his uncle’s beliefs and what he had written.
Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is also set to arrive in Israel next week for what is being perceived as a precursor for his 2024 Republican Presidential bid.
The planned visit by McCarthy is at a time of high tensions and violent clashes in Israel between the country and residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
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