Apr 18, 2023 - World

McCarthy to become 2nd House speaker to address Israeli Knesset

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks in front of American flags in the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Photo: lex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Tuesday he will give a speech in front of a full session of the Israeli Knesset during his upcoming trip to Israel.

Why it matters: McCarthy will be the first U.S. House speaker to address the Knesset in 25 years. Newt Gingrich was the first and last to do so in 1998.

Driving the news: McCarthy is expected to arrive in Israel on April 30 with a bipartisan delegation of 20 Republican and Democratic members of Congress as part of Israel's 75th independence day celebrations.

  • House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) will also travel to Israel several days before McCarthy's visit.

What they're saying: "My first trip abroad as Speaker will be a return to Israel to commemorate their 75th year of statehood. The US-Israel relationship is as important as ever, and I’m proud to accept @AmirOhana’s invitation as the 2nd Speaker of the House in history to address the Knesset," McCarthy tweeted, referring to Israeli parliament speaker Amir Ohana.

  • "Speaker McCarthy's speech in the Knesset will be a sign for the strong and unbreakable bond between Israel and the U.S.," Ohana said in a statement that added the speech would take place on May 1.

Behind the scenes: An Israeli official said the talks about a possible Knesset speech by McCarthy started in January.

  • At the time, Ohana sent McCarthy a letter congratulating him on being elected House speaker and inviting him to speak in the Knesset. Since then, McCarthy and Ohana stayed in touch by text messages, the Israeli official said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with McCarthy's tweet.

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