Anti-Arab Kach group outlawed in Israel: Belated response to Hebron massacre is likely to help get peace negotiations going again

ISRAEL has banned the racist anti- Arab Kach movement and its offspring, the Kahane Lives organisation, in a belated reaction to the Hebron mosque massacre of 25 February. The perpetrator of the mass killing, Baruch Goldstein, was a Kach activist who lived in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron.

Since 1988 Kach has been barred from contesting elections for the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, but this is the first time in more than 40 years that Israel has outlawed a Jewish organisation on the grounds that it is terrorist and therefore a threat to state security. The last time was when the Stern group, led by a future prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, was banned after the killing in 1948 of the UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte.

The decision to ban Kach was taken unanimously at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting yesterday. 'Any organisation carrying the goals of those organisations which includes the establishment of a theocracy in the biblical land of Israel (Eretz Israel) and the violent expulsion of Arabs from that land will be considered as terrorist,' a cabinet statement said.

The move comes a few days before the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, departs for the United States. It could go a long way towards bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. 'This is a positive development towards redressing the basic injustice in the Israeli judicial system,' said Hanan Ashrawi, the former spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation at the peace talks. The Palestinians suspended all negotiations with Israel following the Hebron incident and have demanded some form of international presence to protect their population against militant settlers. And they have asked for the dismantlement of some of the more extreme settlements.

The Israeli move seems motivated by political considerations more than fears about Israel's security. In the past, Israeli courts and the army have shown Kach the greatest leniency. For the Palestinians, Kach is only the most extreme expression of a settler movement which they - and most of the international community - consider illegal. Successive Israeli governments have allowed, indeed encouraged, Jewish settlement on land which was never under Israeli sovereignty, thus storing up enormous problems in any future arrangement. Those problems can no longer be deferred.

For years Israeli governments, of different hues, have suppressed the expression of Palestinian nationalist sentiment by making membership of any PLO faction a criminal offence. Only in the past years has association with the PLO been decriminalised. Now the same laws have been invoked to ban Kach.

The Israeli security services have been assiduous over the years in tracking down Palestinian activists. They have made a start, in looking at the enemy within, by placing four Kach activists in what is termed in a legalistic euphemism 'administrative detention' - detention without charge or trial for six months, extendable. They could now be sentenced for up to 20 years imprisonment for membership of a banned organisation. It is unlikely that many of Kach's few hundred members will be so treated. And it is likely that they will be re-organised under a different name.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...