The U.S. government has refused to issue an entry visa to MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union ) on the grounds that he belongs to a "terrorist organization."
Ben Ari applied to the American consulate for a visa so he could attend two conferences in the United States this week. Though the consulate did not specify what group he is suspected of belonging to, he said he presumes it is Kach, the former far-right political party that both Israel and America now deem a banned terrorist organization.
In response, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) sent an angry letter to U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro, saying it was unacceptable for a Knesset member to be banned from the United States and urging him to reconsider.
"National Union," Rivlin wrote, "is a completely legitimate faction of the Israeli parliament, and Ben Ari an elected representative of the State of Israel, a close American ally. To impugn him as belonging to a terrorist organization and bar him from visiting the country is unacceptable," he charged.
Ben Ari said he found it strange that a country which has granted visas to both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (who was involved for decades in PLO terror ) should bar him "on the grounds that I'm a terrorist."