U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) arrived in Israel on Sunday, where he will meet with top officials and become the second-ever holder of his post to address the full Knesset.
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.
“This is a clear expression of the strong and unbreakable bond between Israel and its closest ally, the United States of America,” added Ohana.
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.
Newt Gingrich was the only other House speaker to address the Knesset plenum, having done so in 1998.
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