House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) offered strong support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Israel, saying he’ll invite the Israeli leader to address Congress if President Biden doesn’t invite him to the White House.
McCarthy told the newspaper Israel Hayom when he arrived in Israel on Sunday that Biden has waited “too long now” to invite Netanyahu to Washington. “If it doesn’t happen, I’ll invite the prime minister to come meet with the House. He’s a dear friend, as a prime minister of a country that we have our closest ties with,” he said.
In March, President Biden said he would not invite Netanyahu in the “near term” and criticized the Israeli leader’s judicial overhaul plans, which would give the Knesset the power to override Israel’s top court with a simple majority. Netanyahu’s plans are currently on pause as he faced major opposition to the policy.
Besides the mild criticism of the judicial overhaul, Biden has not signaled he will make any changes to the US-Israeli relationship and has repeatedly reaffirmed his support for the country.
On Monday, McCarthy delivered a speech to Israel’s Knesset and reaffirmed that there is strong bipartisan support for Israel in Congress. “I choose to come here today to celebrate the bond between our two countries and to reaffirm the bipartisan support for Israel in Congress,” he said.
Reflecting the bipartisan support for Israel, the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), just led a delegation to the country to show support. In comments to Jewish Insider, Jeffries dismissed the notion that the US could leverage aid to Israel due to the judicial overhaul or other policies, calling the idea a “nonstarter.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), who joined Jeffries in Israel, said the delegation emphasized that “regardless of any issues in Israel, the relationship transcends [domestic Israeli politics] and remains special and ironclad.”
The congressional visits to Israel come amid a spike in violence against Palestinians as Netanyahu’s government has stepped up raids in the West Bank. The governing coalition includes extremist settlers who want to significantly expand settlements with the ultimate goal of annexing the West Bank. The plans have not impacted US support for Israel.