Supreme Court to Consider Kahane’s Appeal of Loss of Knesset Privileges

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider an appeal by Kach Party leader Rabbi Meir Kahane against his loss of Knesset privileges for refusing to take the required oath of allegiance oath of allegiance to the state.

Justice Menahem Elon decided Monday to refer the matter to a three-justice panel. No date was set for the hearing. At the same time, the high court rejected Kahane’s application for an interim injunction against the stripping of privileges Monday by Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel.

Hillel ruled that Kahane and his staff may enter the Knesset building, but they will be barred from the plenary chamber and forbidden to participate in debates and committee sessions or to vote. Kahane will continue to receive his MK’s salary.

Kahane mounted the podium Monday when summoned by Hillel to take the oath. He said the words, “I do so undertake,” the standard response, but added, “to keep God’s laws always and forever.” Hillel ruled that he failed to make the requisite declaration and his status therefore is that of an elected MK who has not yet formally joined the House.

Several Mapam MKs petitioned Hillel to withdraw Kahane’s status as a Knesset member because of his sworn testimony to a U.S. court that he never pledged loyalty to the State of Israel. Kahane gave that testimony to retain his American citizenship, which the U.S. authorities were seeking to revoke.

Kahane told reporters Monday that he was loyal to the state, but his loyalty to the Torah came first. He is considered unlikely, however, to gain much support from the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox parties. Spokesmen for the religious parties pointed out that the votes he won in the 1984 elections were at the expense of Likud and Tehiya rather than the mainstream Orthodox factions.

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