Washington criticises hardline Itamar Ben-Gvir, a likely senior partner in the next Netanyahu-led government, for attending a memorial service for Meir Kahane, a convicted terrorist.

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.
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. (AFP)

The United States has criticised 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 an extremist.

"Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organisation is abhorrent. There is no other word for it," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday when asked about the issue at his press briefing.

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.

Price said Washington has listed the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organisation, adding the US has "condemned incitement... violence and racism in all of its forms."

Known for his anti-Arab diatribes, Ben-Gvir is in a 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 Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Kahane's inspiration 

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.

Ben-Gvir attended the commemoration event for Kahane on Thursday, expressing admiration for the leader and receiving cheers for supporting the deportation of "terrorists" from Israel.

At the ceremony held in occupied 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."

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

While the US removed Kahane Chai from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, it has been deemed a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist organisation under US law since 2001.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies