Kevin McCarthy Criticizes Joe Biden for Not Hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

In the final days of April, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy took President Joe Biden to task for not hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House more than four months following Netanyahu’s resumption of office as Israel’s Prime Minister.

McCarthy arrived in Israel on April 30, 2023, as the head of a bipartisan Congressional delegation, which includes Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer.

In an interview with Israel Hayom, McCarthy noted, “If that [a visit to the White House] doesn’t happen, I’ll invite the prime minister to come meet with the House. He’s a dear friend, as a prime minister of a country that we have our closest ties with.”

When he was questioned about how long he would wait, McCarthy replied, “I think it’s too long now. He should invite him soon.” McCarthy already extended an invitation to Israeli President Isaac Herzog to give a speech before Congress in June to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary.

“President Biden hasn’t talked to me about the debt ceiling for the last 80 some days so. I think he, the prime minister, might be in good company if he treats me the same way,” the speaker jokingly stated.

In 2022, Netanyahu was re-elected for a fifth time. This new Israeli government is particularly controversial for being the most far-right government in the nation’s history. Leaders of controversial settler parties such as Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich were appointed to leading positions in Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu came back to power following a one-year period in opposition, after 12 consecutive years as prime minister.

Because of the potential of him possibly facing jail time in an ongoing corruption trial, Netanyahu forged an alliance between Ben Gvir and Smotrich to establish a hard-right coalition government.

Netanyahu has been pursuing various judicial reforms, which CNN observed would “give the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and therefore the parties in power, more control over Israel’s judiciary. From how judges are selected, to what laws the Supreme Court can rule on, to even giving parliament the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions.”

Many of Netanyahu’s detractors contend that these reforms would help Netanyahu avoid prosecution on additional bribery charges.

Israel and the US are entering a history phase of their historically tight relationship. Due to the rightward shift of the Israeli government, which could see it embrace a much more hardline ethno-religious character, the US may have to recalibrate its relationship with Israel. 

On Israel’s side, it has to likely look for new strategic partners as the US continues its pivot towards Asia in an effort to contain China. This will leave the US focusing less on Israel, which has to make policymakers in Israel worried. 

Ultimately, Israel will have to play a delicate balancing act in the new multipolar order, which will compel it to recalibrate its domestic and foreign policies that often create tension with the Middle East. 

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