'Not getting involved' in Otzma controversy, Pompeo says

Two of America's largest Israel advocacy organizations– the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee– indirectly condemned Netanyahu for his move on Friday.

February 25, 2019 04:02
1 minute read.
'Not getting involved' in Otzma controversy, Pompeo says

Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Worldwide Threats" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, February 13, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)


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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo steered clear on Sunday of the growing controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to let Otzma Yehudit, a racist party affiliated with domestic extremists, enter his party’s list for parliamentary seats in April’s elections.

“We’re not about to get involved in an election, to interfere in an election of a democracy. Election campaigns are tough. We’ll allow the Israeli people to sort this out, and I am confident that when the election’s over, the United States will continue to have a strong, important, very, very deep relationship with Israel that protects the American people and benefits Israel as well,” Pompeo told CNN’s Jake Tapper, asked to respond to the political agreement between Netanyahu and the Bayit Yehudi-National Union Party.

Two of America’s largest Israel advocacy organizations – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee – indirectly condemned Netanyahu for the move on Friday, issuing exceptional rebukes of Otzma that broke from their tradition of remaining silent on internal Israeli politics.

Last week, Netanyahu supported a deal between Bayit Yehudi-National Union Party – a far-right party by Israel’s political standards – and the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party, an offshoot of the Kahanist movement that has been designated as a terrorist organization abroad and banned from Knesset lists since the 1980s.

The Kahanist movement, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, considers Arabs and other non-Jews in Israel to be enemies of the state and supports replacing Israel’s democratic government with a theocratic structure.

The move could see Otzma Yehudit in parliament for the first time – and perhaps even in a governing coalition.

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