High Court Denies Kahane’s Appeal of Loss of Knesset Privileges

The Supreme Court Monday rejected Rabbi Meir Kahane’s appeal against Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel, who stripped Kahane of most of his parliamentary privileges two weeks ago for refusing to take the standard oath of allegiance to the State of Israel required of all Knesset members.

The ruling was seen as a severe blow to Kahane, leader of the Kach Party and its only Knesset member. Although still an MK, he has lost his parliamentary immunity. He also is barred by the Speaker from the plenary chamber and cannot participate in debate or vote.

Kahane told a press conference after the Supreme Court ruling that he would take the oath of allegiance and then attack the Knesset from the podium. Hillel declared, “I will not let this Knesseter behave disrespectfully to the Knesset.”

Kahane met with Hillel later. He told reporters afterwards that he agreed to take the oath in Arabic. Hillel demanded it be taken in Hebrew. Kahane’s refusal to take the oath appears to have less to do with his religious convictions — he substituted a psalm for the standard text two weeks ago — than with difficulties over his U.S. citizenship.

He was asked to take the oath, usually administered when a new Knesset convenes, because he had testified at a citizenship hearing in an American court that he had never pledged allegiance to a foreign state.

Voice of Israel Radio reported Monday that Kahane cabled the U.S. Justice Department after the Supreme Court ruling that he was being forced to swear allegiance to Israel but did not want this interpreted as a waiver of his American citizenship.

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