U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment on last week’s controversial merger between the Jewish Home and the far-right Otzma Yehudit parties ahead of the Israeli elections in April.
“We’re not about to get involved in an election, to interfere in an election of a democracy, Pompeo told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Election campaigns are tough. We’ll allow the Israeli people to sort this out, and I am confident that when the election’s over the United States will continue to have a strong, important, very, very deep relationship with Israel that protects the American people and benefits Israel as well.”
Otzma Yehudit, or “Jewish Power,” was formed by followers of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League in the United States, which was tainted by violence. After he immigrated to Israel, he advocated for the expulsion of all Arabs.
Last week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee condemned the merger.
“The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel,” said AJC in a statement, prefacing that it was compelled to speak out despite its prerogative not to “comment on political parties and candidates during an election.”
“The party might conceivably gain enough votes to enter the next Knesset, and potentially even become part of the governing coalition,” added the organization. “Historically, the views of extremist parties, reflecting the extreme left or the extreme right, have been firmly rejected by mainstream parties, even if the electoral process of Israel’s robust democracy has enabled their presence, however small, in the Knesset.”
“We agree with AJC. AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and reprehensible party,” the latter tweeted.
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brokering the merger, AIPAC announced that he will address next month’s annual policy conference in Washington.