US slams Israel’s Netnayahu extremist ally over controversial memorial

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The United States on Thursday criticized as “repugnant” the appearance of Israel’s hardline firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, a likely member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government, at a memorial to a Jewish extremist.

“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent. There is no other word for it,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said when asked about the issue at his press briefing.

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Washington remains “concerned, as we’ve said before, by the legacy of Kahane Chai (the political party founded by Orthodox Rabbi Meir Kahane who was assassinated in 1990) and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,” Price added as he urged Israeli groups to “maintain calm” and not exacerbate tensions.

Known for his anti-Arab diatribes, Ben-Gvir is in prime position to demand a coveted cabinet seat in a prospective government led by former premier Netanyahu and may well secure a portfolio relating to the simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the ceremony held Thursday in Jerusalem, according to the Israeli press Ben-Gvir said he believed Kahane’s “main characteristic was love... love of Israel without compromises or any other considerations.”

He was reportedly jeered at the event after saying “I do not support the expulsion of all Arabs.”

Ben-Gvir draws his ideology from that of American-born extremist Meir Kahane, a former Israeli MP whose Kach party was banned in Israel after the 1994 murder of 29 Palestinians praying in Hebron by one of his supporters.

The United States designated Kach offshoot Kahane Chai a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.

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