Rivlin cancels delegation after US refuses MK visa

State Department says MK, a former Kahane student, is part of a terrorist group.

March 12, 2012 20:54
1 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin [file]

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset Channel)


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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin canceled a delegation of MKs to the US Congress on Monday in response to Washington’s refusal to grant MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) a visa.

MKs Einat Wilf (Independence), Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) were supposed to attend a female empowerment conference in Washington at the end of the month. The conference includes a panel with female members of Congress at the Israeli embassy.

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Rivlin decided to cancel the delegation, because the State Department will not allow Ben-Ari to visit the US due to his connection to a terrorist organization.

Ben-Ari was a student of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and still refers to himself as a disciple of the controversial rabbi.

Kahane’s Kach political party was banned from the Knesset for being racist in 1988 and declared a terrorist organization by the State Department in 1994.

“The US claim that an MK is a terrorist is unacceptable and disrespects the entire Knesset,” Rivlin said.

The Knesset speaker also sent a letter to US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, in which he wrote that Ben-Ari is an elected public official and a legitimate member of the Knesset.

Ben-Ari thanked Rivlin for “standing strong against disrespect of the Knesset.”

On Sunday, after his planned protest in front of the Nazareth home of MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) was canceled by the police due to security concerns, Ben-Ari visited the northern town alone, waving an Israeli flag. The National Union MK was escorted by police, who insisted he leave Nazareth after 20 minutes.

Ben-Ari, along with right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, originally sought permission to hold the protest against Zoabi in January, accusing her of “persecuting IDF soldiers and cursing the State of Israel.”

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