US State Department spokesman Ned Price has denounced the appearance of Israeli Knesset Member, Itamar Ben Gvir, as "abhorrent" for attending the memorial of Rabbi Meir Kahane. The American born ultra-nationalist Israeli politician, openly advocated expelling all Palestinians from historic Palestine between the river and the sea – what he called "the Land of Israel".
Kahane founded the Kach party which was later outlawed. The controversial rabbi, however, remains a revered figure. He inspired the likes of Rabbi Baruch Goldstein who in 1994 killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Israeli occupied Ibrahimi Mosque and wounded more than 125.
A former member of the Kach movement, Ben Gvir and the coalition of ultranationalist parties have emerged as the main power broker in Israel following last week's election, wining 14 seats. The 46-year-old is expected to also be given an important ministerial position.
Read: Kahanism is now Israel's mainstream
Denouncing Ben Gvir's attendance at the annual Kahane memorial, Price said: "Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organisation is abhorrent. We are concerned by the use of Kahana's legacy and rhetoric by extremist and violent right wing activists."
"There is no other word for it – it is abhorrent. And we remain concerned, as we've said before, by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists," Price said, adding that Washington has listed the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organisation.
Before the memorial Ben-Gvir tweeted that his participation was in recognition of Kahane's "love of Israel" and "fight for Soviet Jewry and against anti-Semitism." He was cheered when he repeated his election pledge to deport "terrorists" – a term he has applied to Palestinian stone-throwers, as well as to some representatives of Israel's 21 Palestinian Arab minority.