Israeli Knesset Speaker: ‘Unacceptable’ to Label Ben Ari Terrorist
An Israeli parliamentary delegation is cancelling its planned visit to Washington DC later this month because the US State Department has denied entry to MP Michael Ben Ari, a far right MP with deep ties to the Kach Party, banned in Israel and listed as a terrorist organization in the United States.
The US had already denied Ben Ari’s visa last month, and consular officials later said it was “based on the State Department’s prerogative to ban terrorists from entering the country.” Israeli officials had sought to reverse the decision, arguing that no official in the Israeli government could be banned for terrorist ties.
This is actually a long-standing problem for Ben Ari, who had previously been unable to secure a visa in 2009 because off his history of arrests. Ben Ari responded to the latest ban by saying it was typical of “American blindness” that caused 9/11.
Ben Ari had been arrested in 2009 as part of a group of settlers that attacked Palestinian farmers and chopped down a large number of olive trees in the West Bank. He argued that this arrest was in violation of his immunity as a member of parliament.
The Israeli Knesset’s speaker says it is “unacceptable” to label any member of the parliament a “terrorist” as the US has apparently done. This is particularly interesting given the large numbers of times the MPs themselves have angrily condemned Arab MPs within the Knesset as terrorists and demanded that they be arrested or deported.
Israeli delegation cannot travel to U.S after MK Ben Ari denied entry visa
Knesset speaker banned MK delegation after National Union MK Ben Ari’s application was denied based on State Department’s prerogative to ban terrorists from U.S.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Monday he is banning a delegation of MKs from attending a women’s conference in Washington this month because the United States has denied entry to MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union)
MKs Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Einat Wilf (Atzmaut) were scheduled to take part in a four-day conference on women that begins March 25 and will be hosted by the U.S. Congress.
They were due to sit on a panel with U.S. congresswomen and to launch a collaborative project between the Knesset and Congress. Gal-On, Hotovely and Wilf were also scheduled to attend a reception at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
The U.S. refusal to grant entry to Ben Ari because of what it said are his ties to a terrorist group amounts to “an assault on the Knesset as a whole,” Rivlin said Monday. “The United States’ allegation that an MK is a terrorist is unacceptable.”
Ben Ari is a long-time follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party is outlawed in Israel and is considered a terrorist organization in the United States.
The National Union MK applied for an entry visa to the United States last month so he could participate in two conferences, one of which is aimed at promoting immigration to Israel.
The U.S. consular staff said Ben Ari’s application was denied based on the State Department’s prerogative to ban terrorists from entering the country.