Speaker Rivlin to US: Let In MK Ben Ari
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has sent a letter to the US Ambassador in Israel, Daniel Shapiro, urging that the U.S. reconsider a decision not to let MK Michael Ben Ari enter it.
The text of the letter follows:
MK Michael Ben Ari has informed me that the United States Consulate has notified him that they are unable to grant him a visitor's visa on the basis of a section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the refusal to grant a visa to anyone who has been involved in a terrorist action or who serves as the representative or member of an organization defined as a foreign terrorist organization by the American Secretary of State.
I wish to express to you my protest at this decision and to ask that this decision be reconsidered.
Mr. Ben Ari is a Member of Knesset representing the National Union Faction, a faction that has fully legitimate status in the Israel parliament. As an elected public representative in the State of Israel, a close friend of the United States, he should neither be considered a member of any terrorist organization nor should be prevented from visiting the United States.
We take a very serious view of this decision to disqualify an elected public representative of the State of Israel, that is governed by the rule of law and democratic principles.
I await your prompt response.
Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin
Speaker of Knesset.
MK Ben Ari responded to the US decision in a statement:
"The US administration that welcomes with open arms Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel; Abu Mazen, who planned the murder of children at Maalot; and Ahmed Tibi, who excitedly encourages shaheeds, has chosen to block my path in meeting Jewish communities in the US and encouraging aliyah to Israel, in the claim that I am a terrorist. Now one can understand that the American blindness that does not perceive who the terrorists are, is what brought upon them the terrible terror attacks of September 11."