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Knesset member banned from U.S. for Kach involvement

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States barred entry to Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben Ari, reportedly because of his membership in Kach, a banned terrorist group.

Ben Ari, a member of the right-wing National Union party, wanted to attend two conferences in the United States.

Israeli media quoted Ben Ari as saying last week that the ban stemmed from his association with Kach, the anti-Arab group founded in the 1970s by the late Meir Kahane.

The State Department has listed Kach and other Kahane-founded groups as terrorist organizations. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin wrote to Daniel Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, protesting the decision.

"As an elected public representative in the State of Israel, a close friend of the United States, he should neither be considered a member of any terrorist organization nor should be prevented from visiting the United States," Rivlin said.

A State Department spokesman would not comment on the matter, citing privacy considerations.

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