McCarthy: U.S. will support funding security for Israel 'as long as I am speaker'

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks at the Knesset Plenum in Jerusalem, on Monday. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks at the Knesset Plenum in Jerusalem, on Monday. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE

May 1 (UPI) -- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Israel's Knesset on Monday he will back fully supporting security for Israel in the face of enemies like Iran and warned of China's growing influence.

McCarthy, R-Calif., made the comments to the Israeli legislative body in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the country's independence. McCarthy traveled to Israel on Sunday with a bipartisan group from Congress.


"To deter Iran's dangerous behavior, our nations must continue to stand together," McCarthy said. "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 fully funding for security assistance in Israel ... We must always remain resolute in our commitment that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon."

McCarthy urged Israel to do more to make sure that China does not steal their technology and called on the country to keep a watchful eye out on Beijing.


"Our innovation is at risk from a new threat: the Chinese Communist Party," McCarthy told the Knesset. "While the CCP may disguise itself as promoters of innovation, in truth, they act like thieves. We must not allow them to steal our technology."

He encouraged Israel to continue strengthening foreign investment oversight where China is concerned and praised them for the steps they had taken so far in that area.

McCarthy declined to interject himself into the hottest-button issue in Israeli politics, Netanyahu's efforts to lessen the independence of its judiciary, saying in a news conference after his speech that it was up to Israel to make that decision.

"Israel is their own nation, only it can decide what it wants to do," McCarthy said. "In a democracy, you want checks and balances and a separation of powers... but we leave it up to you how to decide that."

President Joe Biden said in March that Netanyahu should "walk away" from the proposal, which has sparked mass protests, adding he "cannot continue down this road" that would grant the conservative government full control over the judiciary.

Netanyahu responded by asserting Israel's independence as "a sovereign country, which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends."


Biden has said he had no current plans to invite Netanyahu to the White House amid the tensions but McCarthy told reporters he would follow through with the invitation if Biden continues his stance against Netanyahu.

"I'll invite the prime minister to come to meet with the House," McCarthy said. "He's a dear friend, as a prime minister of a country that we have our closest ties with."

Domestically, Biden and McCarthy are at odds over the federal government's debt ceiling. McCarthy wants cuts to some of Biden's signature legislation before he agrees to increase the debt ceiling, while Biden wants an increase without conditions.

McCarthy is just the second U.S. speaker to address the Israeli parliamentary body since fellow Republican Newt Gingrich did so in 1998. McCarthy said in a joint statement with Netanyahu that relations between the two countries have "grown each and every year."

"I look to the next 75 years," he said. "The world is better when America and Israel are tighter. The world is safer."

Netanyahu said he was pleased to see that an effort to recognize Israel's 75th anniversary was approved by an overwhelming majority of U.S. representatives.


"To get 95% agreement on anything today is no mean matter and I think it expresses the strength of that alliance and the strength of that support," Netanyahu said.

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