U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday became the second-ever holder of his post to address the full Israeli Knesset, following in the footsteps of Newt Gingrich in 1998.
Earlier in the day, the speaker visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and laid a wreath in honor of the 6 million Jews exterminated by the Nazis and their helpers during World War II.
He also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two men spoke one-on-one and then held an expanded meeting as part of a working lunch with a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation.
“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. There’s only two countries in the world that were conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are equal,” noted McCarthy.
“And as we continue to grow that, I think the world will be safer, be stronger and our children will have a much more beautiful world in the future. The world is better when America and Israel are tighter,” he added.
McCarthy also met with President Isaac Herzog, who hailed Jerusalem-Washington bilateral ties.
“Today, we are an amazing, thriving country, and our relationship with the United States runs in our DNA—America is a very close ally of ours. We are pleased with full integration in the region as a result of the Abraham Accords, which came after peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt,” said the Israeli president.
“On the other hand, there is a great enemy threatening us not far from here. Half an hour in any direction from here is an enemy state, and we believe that the alliance with America is of great importance,” he added.
The Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords normalized the Jewish state’s relations with four Arab nations.
McCarthy arrived in Israel on Sunday at the head of a 20-member group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
He was received at Ben-Gurion International Airport by his Israeli counterpart Amir Ohana and then traveled directly to the Western Wall in Jerusalem before attending a formal dinner at the parliament.
“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.”
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 position 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.
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