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