WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Tense international relations with Israel are being highlighted as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy visits the country. 

On Monday, McCarthy addressed Israel’s governing body during his first trip abroad as Speaker.

“There’s no place I’d rather be than right here, right now,” McCarthy said. 

His speech was full of praise for the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. 

“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,” McCarthy said. 

The visit was bipartisan, with lawmakers from both parties there to express commitment to Israel. Congressman Steny Hoyer noted how both parties stand together on this topic.

“Yes, we’re Democrats and yes, we’re Republicans, but on this issue we are your friend, your ally,” Hoyer said. 

But there are tensions too. President Joe Biden has publicly criticized the Israeli government for their plans to overhaul their judicial system. Unlike past presidents, he hasn’t yet invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House. 

“I expect the White House to invite the prime minister over for a meeting,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy says he plans to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress if the president doesn’t. The White House side stepped McCarthy’s challenge and didn’t commit to extending an invitation. 

“That’ll happen in due course. What we’re focused on is making sure that we continue to deepen and grow that terrific, bilateral relationship that we have with Israel,” White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said. 

Leaders in both parties say maintaining that relationship is crucial for promoting democracy and for advancing peace and stability in the Middle East.