newsU.S.-Israel Relations

Iran will never get nukes, Kevin McCarthy tells the Knesset

“Our values are your values, our heritage is your heritage, our dreams are your dreams,” the House speaker says.

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks during the opening of the summer session at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks during the opening of the summer session at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

In his address to the Knesset in Jerusalem on Monday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, reaffirmed America’s commitment that “Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons.”

The California Republican is visiting Israel on his first overseas trip as speaker of the House, at the head of a bipartisan congressional delegation.

In his speech, McCarthy had strong words for the Iranian government, calling it a “rogue regime” and “the source of most of the turmoil, violence and instability in the region.”

He slammed the Islamic Republic’s efforts to establish proxies across the Middle East. “Iran seeks to destabilize Iraq. It wants to entrench missiles in Syria. It empowers the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon and it is fueling a brutal civil war in Yemen. And among all this aggression, it seeks to encircle Israel with hostile forces. We cannot allow the Iranian regime’s evil campaign to succeed,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before introducing McCarthy, expressed a similar sentiment. “The first and most urgent challenge is the joint effort by Israel and the U.S. to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons…. We correctly view the threat emanating from the fanatic regime in Iran, which threatens not only Israel but also the U.S. and the entire free world. The need to block the nuclear arming of Iran will continue to be at the top of Israel’s priorities during the Knesset summer session, as will our determination to confront Iran’s regional proxies,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu emphasized the importance of close military cooperation with the U.S. “The IDF and the U.S. armed forces recently completed the largest military exercise in the history of Israel, and for this, I would like to thank the Biden administration,” he said.

United against Iran

McCarthy also affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Israel military partnership and a unified front against the Islamic Republic.

“Our nations must continue to stand together. We, the United States, integrated Israel into our Central Command and are continuing to carry out military exercises together. As long as I am speaker America will continue to support full funding for security assistance in Israel. Together we will defeat Iran’s precision-guided missiles, their drones, their terror tunnels and cyberattacks as we stand shoulder to shoulder against Iran’s regional aggression,” he said.

McCarthy praised a bipartisan resolution in support of the Abraham Accords that passed the House of Representatives last week. He emphasized the significance of this peace initiative and said that “Congress stands ready to work with Israel to broaden and deepen those accords working for sustainable peace with all of Israel’s neighbors.”

McCarthy referred to the accords as a “dramatic breakthrough,” and said that his “greatest hope” is that the U.S.-Israel relationship can serve as a foundation for greater peace across the Middle East.

“The progress towards peace in the past few years has simply been remarkable. Thanks to the Abraham Accords, coexistence and cooperation are beginning to replace conflict and intolerance. As a result, the future where your children can enjoy a just and lasting peace is not only foreseeable, it is attainable,” the congressman said.

While McCarthy broadly praised Israeli policy, he did have words of warning regarding the developing Israel-China relationship. He expressed skepticism regarding potential Chinese investment in Israeli infrastructure and attacked the Chinese regime, calling it a “threat to innovation” and saying its minions “act like thieves.”

He pushed for Israel to expand on its Review Committee for Foreign Investments that was established in 2019 under American pressure.

“I’m glad that Israel has put into place a process to review foreign investments, and I strongly encourage Israel to further strengthen its oversight of foreign investment, particularly Chinese investment, building on the steps that you first took in 2019,” McCarthy said. “We must not allow them to steal our technology.”

The central theme of McCarthy’s remarks was the unique and close nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Throughout his speech, again and again, he reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to Israel as well as his own personal support for the Jewish nation-state.

Throughout his speech, McCarthy quoted the Israeli Declaration of Independence as well as the Book of Psalms and other sections of the Jewish Bible.

“We are the only two countries in history that were conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are equal. Our values are your values, our heritage is your heritage. Our dreams are your dreams. America is grateful for our friendship with Israel. We are a better nation because of it and we must never shy away from defending it,” he said.

The speaker emphasized that close ties between the U.S. and Israel are not divided by party lines, saying, “I choose to come here today to celebrate the bond between our two countries and to reaffirm that the bipartisan support for Israel is at the foundation for a truly special relationship.”

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