Legislators protest US visa decision, won’t go to DC

Legislators protest US visa decision, won’t go to DC

Knesset Speaker says US decision to bar entry to an MK is an insult

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Knesset members won’t attend a women’s empowerment conference in Washington, DC, in protest of the United States’s refusal to grant a visa to a right-wing MK, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced on Monday.

MKs Zehava Gal-On, Tzipi Hotovely, and Einat Wilf were scheduled to participate in a panel of American and Israeli female legislators at the conference in late March. According to Rivlin, they will not be attending because of the State Department’s refusal to grant MK Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party a US visa.

“The US’s argument that a member of Knesset is a terrorist is unacceptable and insults the honor of the entire Knesset,” Rivlin said.

Ben-Ari, a former Kach party member, was told his visa request was rejected because the US State Department prohibits “the entrance of people who were involved in terror activities or were members of a terror organization in a foreign country.”

The Kach party is an outlawed terrorist organization in Israel, the US, Canada, and the EU.

Rivlin asked US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to assist in the matter, telling him that Ben-Ari is a serving member of parliament and the US has no cause to consider him a threat.

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