Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Israel Bans Two Jewish Movements Ruling Seen as Boost to Peace Talks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Israel Bans Two Jewish Movements Ruling Seen as Boost to Peace Talks

Article excerpt

Israel's government Sunday outlawed two Jewish extremist groups - Kach, and Kahane Lives - in a bid to lure Palestinians back to the Middle East peace process.

The Cabinet unanimously invoked a rarely used five-decade-old emergency regulation to declare the two movements inspired by the slain American-born Rabbi Meir Kahane as "terrorist organizations."

The government said it will use military and police powers to arrest their members and shut down their operations. It acted after a follower of Kahane massacred Muslims Feb. 25.

Kahane founded the group Kach. He advocated the expulsion of Arabs from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and sanctioned the use of violence.

Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990. The second group banned Sunday, Kahane Lives, was later established by his son, Benjamin.

Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish settler who gunned down at least 30 Muslims as they prayed at a mosque in Hebron, was a follower of Kahane. He had been elected on the Kach slate to the council of his West Bank settlement, Kiryat Arba.

Sunday's action was a step toward PLO demands that Palestinians in the occupied territories be protected from settler vigilantes before peace talks can resume between Israel and the PLO.

Reports said Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wanted the two groups banned before meeting with President Bill Clinton in Washington this week, as a concession to get the PLO back to the talks.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin said the two sides are very close to resuming talks. Israel radio reported a starting date of March 21, but Israeli and Palestinian officials would not confirm it.

The Cabinet used a 1948 law that was first used against Jewish extremists in the early years of Israel's independence, but since 1960 has been directed entirely at Palestinians. In recent years the law has been used against the Palestine Liberation Organization, which signed a peace agreement with Israel last year, and Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement.

Under the law, members, supporters and financial backers of such an organization can be prosecuted and imprisoned. The government can confiscate the group's property, seize its bank accounts and close its offices.

Rabin said, "For us they are terrorist organizations just like Palestinian terrorist groups."

"Using violence and attacking people is something Israel cannot accept, and certainly when it is done with the aim of foiling government policy," he said.

Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair said that Sunday's decision was based on his finding that "clear, conspicuous and continuing patterns of violence, or threats of violence, have been identified within the activities of these organizations and that they are liable to cause death or injury to individuals. …

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