Palestinians condemn US decision to remove Israeli extremists Kach from terror list
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday condemned a decision by the US State Department to remove the Jewish extremist group Kach from its list of terrorist organisations.
The extremist group, which was founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1971, supports violent attacks on Palestinians and called for their expulsion from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
It was designated a terrorist group by the US State Department in 1997, after one of its supporters, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994.
However, the Biden administration said last week that it would remove the group from its list of terrorist organisations on the grounds that it "has not been linked to a terrorist attack since 2005".
In a statement, the Palestinian Authority said that the US was "rewarding" Israeli extremist groups, noting that the US Congress still designated the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as a terrorist group, even though the UN had previously recognised it as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
“This decision is a reward for the operatives of this terrorist organisation, including Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is always fuelling tensions in occupied Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as Rabbi Benzi Govstein, who has called for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock,” the Palestinian Authority's presidency said in a statement.
While Kach has been relatively inactive in recent years, extremist supporters of Kahane continue to have significant influence in Israeli politics.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, who leads the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) movement continues to incite against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, calling for their expulsion, and previously displayed a picture of Baruch Goldstein in his home.
The extremist movement previously took part in Israeli governments led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinian presidency called on the US administration "to reverse its dangerous decision and to take a historic decision to remove the PLO from its list of terrorist organisations."
"While President Biden has affirmed to President Mahmoud Abbas his commitment to the two-state solution, his rejection of settlements and the expulsion of residents and the demolition of homes, as well as his commitment to maintain the historic status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the US administration is never fulfilling its commitments to peace and stability," the statement added.
Four other groups will also be removed from the list of foreign terrorist organisations by the US State Department on the grounds that they have been inactive.
The removal means that a series of sanctions on the groups will be removed, including asset freezes, travel bans, and a prohibition on US citizens donating to the groups.