JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Using regulations that previously had been used only against Palestinians, the Israeli government has banned the Kach and Kahane Chai political parties.
The Israeli Cabinet, which voted unanimously on the measure during its weekly session Sunday, outlawed the two groups, declaring them terrorist organizations.
In related developments, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Sunday that the government saw itself as having sole and full responsibility for the security of the entire population of Israel and the territories, without distinction between Jew and Palestinian.
And in a similar vein, the Israel Defense Force issued what it termed a clarification of its open-fire instructions.
Under the terms of the new instructions, Israeli soldiers were clearly told to take all measures — including opening fire — against anyone, including settlers, who fires at others in a situation that is clearly not self-defense.
Rabin’s statement and the IDF clarification came on the heels of the furor caused throughout the country when the commander of the border police in Hebron last week told the commission investigating the Feb. 25 killings that Israeli soldiers had standing orders never to fire upon Jews.
In outlawing the two Jewish groups, the Cabinet employed a decades-old law that had been aimed at Palestinian terror groups.
Kach and Kahane Chai owe their ideology to the fiercely anti-Arab teachings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in New York in 1990.
Immediately after the Cabinet decision, representatives of Kach said they would appeal the ban in the courts, but in the meantime they indicated they would suspend all activities.
The Cabinet’s decision was based on evidence, submitted by Israeli security services and police, that implicates the two groups in a series of unsolved murders of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The government ban extends to all groups associated with the two organizations and to any that may spring up in response to the ban if the new groups share the same violent anti-Arab tendencies.
As part of the government measure, anyone supporting the two groups either verbally or with financial assistance will be subject to imprisonment.
Justice Minister David Libai said the government had taken the measures only after there had been very serious consideration of the implications of the action upon Israeli democracy.
While the opposition parties’ reaction to the ban was generally muted, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu thought a six-month ban should have been imposed initially.
National Religious Party leader Zevulun Hammer and Tsomet’s Rafael Eitan both said the government should have taken action against individuals rather than organizations.