McCarthy Arrives in Israel on First International Visit as Speaker

Lia Onely
By Lia Onely
April 30, 2023Congress
McCarthy Arrives in Israel on First International Visit as Speaker
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana (L) at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, on April 30, 2023. (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset Spokesmanship Office)

HAIFA, Israel—U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) arrived in Israel on April 30 with a 16-member bipartisan congressional delegation.

He arrived in Israel at about noon local time following an invitation from the Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana. The Knesset is the Israeli parliament.

Ohana welcomed McCarthy and the delegation, saying that he looks forward to strengthening “the connection between our two parliaments.”

He also thanked him for “choosing the Knesset to be the first parliament in the world to visit.”

Kevin Mccarthy
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) with members of Congress and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, on April 30, 2023. (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset Spokesmanship Office)

“It is an honor for us to join you in Jerusalem to celebrate the independence of Israel and to reaffirm the special bond between our nations,” McCarthy said, according to a press statement from the Knesset spokesperson.

Israel celebrated its Independence Day on April 25 and 26.

“In the next 75 years, our important partnership promises to be even stronger than the first 75 years,” McCarthy added.

“My first trip abroad as Speaker will be a return to Israel to commemorate their 75th year of statehood,” he said in a post on Twitter on April 18.

“The U.S.-Israel relationship is as important as ever, and I’m proud to accept [Ohana]’s invitation as the 2nd Speaker of the House in history to address the Knesset.”

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) spoke before the Knesset 25 years ago, in May 1998.

McCarthy will visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, on Monday and will address the Knesset in the afternoon.

The Republican Speaker has been a strong supporter of Israel and has publicly voiced support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is an Israeli patriot, statesman, and most importantly a great friend of the USA,” he said in a Twitter post on March 30.

“Free societies have vigorous and open debate. Israel is no exception,” he said, adding, “I support [Netanyahu], and America’s support for Israel’s strong, vibrant democracy is unwavering.”

He was referring to the ongoing efforts by Netanyahu’s government to reform the judicial system in Israel, which has faced criticism both inside and outside the country.

Judicial Reform

In March, Netanyahu rejected pressure from President Joe Biden to halt the judicial reform that has sparked large protests across the country, both in support of the reform and against it.

At the time, when asked if Biden would be inviting the Israeli prime minister to the White House, he replied: “No, not in the near term.”

Judicial reform began in Israel on Jan. 4 when Israel Minister of Justice Yariv Levin announced plans to drastically reshape Israel’s judicial system.

“We go to the ballot box, vote, choose, yet time and again, people we didn’t vote for decide for us,” he stated in his opening remarks. “Many people turn their eyes to the legal system and their voice is not heard.

“This is not a democracy,” he said. “I have been dealing with this issue for over 20 years, during which I warned about the dangers of judicialization, and formulated proposals and reforms.

“Unfortunately, the risks I warned of have materialized. Therefore, the time has come to act,” Levin added. “Today, I am launching the first stage of the reform of the courts, the purpose of which is to strengthen democracy, restore the courts, restore trust in the legal system, and restore the balance between the three branches of government.”

Levin’s announcement sparked a wave of reactions. The opposition and various television channels began calling the legal overhaul a coup or a judicial revolution in all their reports, and a mass call began for citizens to take to the streets to protest.

Oren Shalom contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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