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Knesset Votes Overwhelmingly to Bar Considera Tion of Racist Bills

The Knesset voted overwhelmingly today to bar consideration of racist bills. The vote was on new regultions drafted by the Knesset’s House Committee aimed specifically at racist measures introduced by Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the extremist Kach Party and its sole member of the Knesset. Also barred by the committee were bills that would deny Israel’s status as a Jewish State.

Labor and Likud joined in supporting the new legislation. The religious parties abstained on grounds that religious legislation might also be affected by the new rules.

Today’s vote ended a legal battle launched by Kahane after Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel refused to present to the plenum his bills to strip Israeli Arabs of their citizenship and to forbid marriage between Arabs and Jews.

Kahane appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Knesset Presidium –Hillel and his aides — must allow the formal filing of the bills on grounds that the only way to cope with Kahane’s antidemocratic thrusts was by the democratic process of Knesset debate.

Hillel delayed compliance, indicating he would sooner resign than bring what he called “Nuremberg Law” measures before Israel’s parliament. Kahane appealed again to the high court last Friday to enforce its earlier ruling by citing Hillel for contempt of court. The three-judge panel said it would consider the appeal but set no date.

This was rendered moot, however, when the House Committee, acting on Hillel’s request, drafted the regulations allowing him to bar bills of an especially repugnant nature. Orthodox members of the committee attempted to delay action but Labor and Likud, acting in rare concert, agreed any delay would be a victory for Kahane.

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