Report: Israeli lawmaker denied U.S. visa


WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Israeli lawmaker reportedly was denied a visa to travel to the United States.

Michael Ben-Ari, a Knesset member of the right-wing National Union Party, had planned to visit several Jewish communities, according to Israel National News, a right-wing news service.

INN quoted sources close to the lawmaker, who has never been to the United States, as saying this week that the refusal was likely connected to Ben-Ari’s participation in and arrest during protests surrounding Israel’s evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005. Ben-Ari was asked whether he had a criminal background when he applied for the visa, INN said.

Ben-Ari also clashed with police last June, when he was arrested by Border Guard forces in the West Bank. Police said he was detained for taking part in the "riots" over the expulsion of Jews from illegal West Bank outposts, according to Ynet.

The Israeli army and the Border Guard subsequently launched investigations into whether the arrest had been legal, since Knesset members may not be arrested without the permission of the parliament’s speaker.

Ben-Ari said he remained hopeful that the American consulate would still grant him the visa, according to Israel National News.


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