WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Sunday said he would invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington if President Joe Biden doesn't do so.
"If that doesn’t happen, I’ll invite the prime minister to come meet with the House," McCarthy said, referring to a visit to the White House, in an interview with Israel Hayom during an official trip to Israel.
McCarthy has already invited Israeli President Isaac Herzog to speak before Congress in June to mark the Jewish state's 75th anniversary, the report said.
McCarthy tied his lack of talks with the president about lifting the U.S. debt ceiling to the lack of discussions between Biden and Netanyahu about a visit.
“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,” he told the Israeli outlet.
Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister in December, a return to the role he last held in June 2021, just a few months into Biden's administration.
In late March, soon after Netanyahu agreed to pause a divisive plan to overhaul the country's judicial system until the next parliament session, Biden expressed concern about the health of Israel's democracy.
"Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road," Biden told reporters. "Hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he is going to try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen."
Asked if he planned to invite Netanyahu to the White House, Biden said, "Not in the near term."
The Israeli leader appeared to respond to Biden's remarks in a series of tweets, writing that he has known Biden for more than 40 years and that the U.S.-Israel relationship is "unbreakable" and "always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us."
"My administration is committed to strengthening democracy by restoring the proper balance between the three branches of government, which we are striving to achieve via a broad consensus," Netanyahu continued. "Israel is 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."
Their relationship has also been on shaky ground over other diplomatic issues. Biden and administration officials, for example, have voiced frustration with Netanyahu and his far-right government over their efforts to expand Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Biden previously hosted then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House in August 2021 and visited Israel soon after Yair Lapid took over that role last July.
McCarthy's visit to Israel was his first trip abroad as House speaker. He delivered a speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem on Monday, reaffirming U.S. support for the government.
"America is grateful for our friendship with Israel. We are a better nation because of it. And we must never shy away from defending it," he told the Israeli parliament. "I believe the best days for Israel and our unbreakable bond are ahead of us."