‘If Biden won’t invite Netanyahu to the White House, I’ll invite him to address Congress’: McCarthy

Netanyahu “is a dear friend, and as the prime minister of a country with which we have the best ties, I think the visit should happen soon.”

By World Israel News Staff and JNS

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), chairman of the United States House of Representatives, arrived in Israel Sunday together with a bipartisan delegation of members of Congress, including a senior member of the Democratic Party, Steny Hoyer.

McCarthy is leading a 20-member delegation of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

He was received at Ben-Gurion Airport by his Israeli counterpart Amir Ohana and then traveled directly to the Western Wall in Jerusalem before heading to the Knesset for a formal dinner.

“Israel, you are a blessed nation,” McCarthy wrote in the Western Wall visitor book, adding: “Our shared values unite a bond that will never break.”

On Monday, the speaker will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and lay a wreath in honor of the 6 million Jews exterminated by the Nazis and their helpers during World War II.

He is also slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the afternoon, Ohana will open the Knesset’s summer session and speeches will commence, including McCarthy’s address in English.

Ohana earlier this month described McCarthy as a “steadfast supporter and longstanding friend of Israel,” and noted that it would be the top Republican official’s first trip outside the U.S. since assuming his post in January. Newt Gingrich was the only other House speaker to address the Knesset plenum, having done so in 1998.

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McCarthy said the U.S. relationship with the Jewish state remained “as important as ever,” adding that the visit would be special coming on the heels of Israel’s 75th Independence Day.

McCarthy late last month expressed his backing for the Netanyahu government amid an ongoing national debate in Israel over the judicial reform initiative.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, statesman and most importantly, a great friend of the United States,” McCarthy wrote. “Free societies have vigorous and open debate. Israel is no exception.

“I support Netanyahu, and America’s support for Israel’s strong, vibrant democracy is unwavering,” he added.

“I don’t know what the exact timing is, but if it happens, I will invite him to come and meet me at the House of Representatives,” the senior Republican said in an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom on Sunday in Jerusalem.

“He (Netanyahu) is a dear friend, and as the prime minister of a country with which we have the best ties, I think the visit should happen soon,” McCarthy told the news outlet.

McCarthy noted that he, too, has not met with President Biden since he took office 80 days ago, Israel Hayom reported.

“He treats me the same way. Apparently, we (McCarthy and Netanyahu) are in good company,” he quipped.

In contrast, former prime minister Naftali Bennett visited the White House in August 2021, only two months since being appointed to the premiership.

Olivia Dalton, White House principal deputy press secretary, confirmed last month that there was no plan for Netanyahu to visit Washington.

“Israeli leaders have a long history, tradition of visiting Washington, and Prime Minister Netanyahu will likely take a visit at some point. But there’s nothing currently planned,” she said.

The snub appears to be over the Netanyahu government’s planned judicial overhaul.

“I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel. The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us,” Netanyahu said at the time.

However, “I think that this is already too long a period,” McCarthy told Israel Hayom. “He should invite Netanyahu soon. I invited President Herzog to come and give a speech before a joint feedback of the House of Representatives and the Senate on the occasion of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, during the month of June. Bibi should also come to America, and if the President won’t invite him – I will.”