The U.S. embassy asked Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin whether he intends to permit Knesset members to hold a ceremony in the plenum in memory of Rabbi Meir Kahane.
Michael Pearlstein, the embassy's second secretary in Tel Aviv, wrote to Moshe Stern, a Rivlin adviser, to clarify the matter for U.S. special envoy Sen. George Mitchell and his staff.
We "would like to know if the speaker has made a decision and, if so, what it is," Pearlstein wrote to Stern. "This is something Senator Mitchell and his team are following with some concern," Pearlstein wrote.
Israeli media reported that MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) was planning to hold a plenum session in honor of former MK Kahane, around the Hebrew anniversary of the former Kach leader's assassination.
These reports sparked American concern.
Rivlin refused to authorize Ben Ari's plan when it was initially proposed.
"We are talking about a provocation. The man and his outlawed [extremist] movement cannot be separated. This is an attempt to bring the Kach movement into the Knesset through the back door," said Rivlin.
Ben Ari appealed Rivlin's decision, and gained the support of several Knesset members. In a House Committee meeting Thursday, chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) announced he intended to mediate between Rivlin and Ben Ari, to see whether some form of ceremony could be held, despite Rivlin's initial opposition.
Rivlin told Levin he was standing by his refusal, but was willing to accept any House Committee decision.
Rivlin adviser Stern responded in writing to the American Embassy, stating that the Knesset chairman had no intention of allowing any event commemorating Kahane to take place in the Knesset building, but that Rivlin could not prevent parliamentary manipulations by other MKs.
Ben Ari slammed the American inquiry Thursday.
"I was elected by the citizens of the independent state of Israel. Mitchell's gross intervention crosses a red line. Its acceptance amounts to a genuflection by the chairman of the Knesset, which is supposed to be [a] sovereign [entity].
"The weakness broadcast by Rivlin has turned the Knesset into a doormat. It's amazing to see how American government officials are trying to get involved in the daily workings of the Knesset," he said.
Ben Ari had planned to fly to the U.S. on business Thursday, but remained in Israel after the U.S. Embassy refused to issue him a visa.
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