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.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

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.

MK Michael Ben Ari at a demonstration in Tel Aviv last year. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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.

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