House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) addressed lawmakers at the Knesset on Monday in an historic event not seen in Israel since the 1998 address to Knesset by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. He answered questions from the media in the Knesset after his remarks, and then again in a separate news conference.
In both cases, he often turned to and shared the podium with Democratic Congress member Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a member of the US legislative body since 1981.
One reporter asked McCarthy if he agreed with the State Department’s funding of tens of thousands of dollars for the Israeli Movement for Quality Government NGO, one of the leading organizations in protests against the Israeli government’s planned judicial reform, and before that protests calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.
“Do you think that’s an appropriate use of State Department funds?” the reporter asked.
“Look. I’m not familiar with this, but if it is as you say, I would say ‘no’,” McCarthy responded. “But I would have to have more information.
“I don’t think the State Department should play at politics. That’s not why we use our tax dollars,” he added.
Prior to his remarks at the Knesset, McCarthy and the bipartisan delegation he is leading met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned that the “first and most urgent challenge” is the joint effort by Israel and the United States to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“The IDF and the US Armed Forces recently completed the largest military exercise in the history of Israel and for this I would like to thank the Biden administration,” Netanyahu said.
“We correctly view the threat emanating from the fanatic regime in Iran, which threatens not only Israel but also the US 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. We will not allow Iran to place a noose of terrorism around us – not in Syria, not in Lebanon, not in Gaza, and not in Judea and Samaria.
“We will not allow Iran to entrench itself militarily on our borders and we will do everything to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.”