Monday, November 16, 2009

US Won't Let Israel Mark Assassination Of Meir Kahane

I suppose that this should not really come as a surprise. After all, granted that the US was unsuccessful in undermining the standing of Netanyahu's coalition, nevertheless, the US will take steps to do what it can to dissuade any steps that would strengthen the right wing in Israel.

So when it was suggested in the Israeli Knesset to mark the assassination of Meir Kahane, the results were to be expected:

Ben-Ari filed a motion for a memorial discussion in parliament to mark the assassination anniversary. A reporter spotted it on the list and queried parliament speaker Rubi (Reuven) Rivlin, who removed it, calling it a provocation. Ben-Ari has challenged Rivlin's decision and has brought it up before a parliamentary committee that will vote on it coming few days.

It turns out that other parties expressed keen interest in the issue -- but not Israeli political parties.

Rivlin's office received a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, asking whether the planned discussion mentioned in the media was indeed going to be held, pointing out that special U.S. envoy Geroge Mitchell was following this closely and with concern. U.S. officials asked for an answer by the end of the day. They got it: Rivlin replied that he would not approve the discussion. Ben-Ari was notified of the decision a week later, when Rivilin informed the right-wing lawmaker that he would not be allowed to bring Kahane to the Knesset through the back door, end of story.

Ben-Ari was outraged to learn of the embassy letter: "Such blatant intervening of the U.S. administration in the Israeli parliament should worry every Israeli citizen, certainly everyone in the Knesset. I wish to remind that I was elected to the Knesset by Israeli citizens in the independent state of Israel and what Mitchell did crossed a red line."

Likud lawmaker Yariv Levine, head of the committee trying to reach a compromise, found the American interest inappropriate. Sure, Israeli lobbyists also try to persuade lawmakers to support or oppose certain issues, he said, but this is different from attempting to determine the parliament's agenda. As for the subject itself, Levine said it's a complicated precedent -- if only for reasons of protocol, which calls for a mourning session to be held in the event of a death of a parliament member. One such meeting was duly held after Kahane's murder, and Levine doesn't think exceptions should be made.

Israel Radio's legal commentator, Moshe Negbi, noted that not only had Kahane's movement and ideas been banished from parliament but that Rabin had outlawed all Kahane offshoots as terror organizations and said they would be dealt with like Hamas. The Knesset wouldn't dream of holding a memorial session for a Hamas terrorist, Negbi said. Kahane's ideas degrade the parliament and democracy, he said, but so does the American intervention, which infringed on the Knesset's sovereignty to determine its agenda -- something even the government is not allowed to do.

But then again, the US is not the government of Israel--it is a 'friend' with a heavy hand planted firmly on Israel's shoulder.

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