Published On: Sun, Jun 25th, 2017

Israel Shelves Plan for Mixed-Sex Prayer Space at Western Wall

The government's decision made it clear that the implementation of the outline was not in line with the commitments made by representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the United States.

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The government decided Sunday to freeze the implementation of the egalitarian section at the Western Wall, which it decided in January 2016. The government’s decision made it clear that the implementation of the outline was not in line with the commitments made by representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the United States.

At the meeting, Interior Minister and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri said that the original decision on the route of the Western Wall was passed by the government because the ultra-Orthodox parties did not pay attention to the plan. He noted that the ultra-Orthodox parties could have lived with unofficial solutions, but once the Reformists petitioned the High Court of Justice and created the need for an official position of the state, they can not accept any compromise: “Do not blame the ultra-Orthodox,” Deri said. No decision on this matter, but we only responded to the challenges of the legal system. ”

In recent months, the ultra-Orthodox parties have intensified their struggle against the Western Wall and have even initiated a bill to repeal it. The bill turned the issue of the Western Wall into a potential coalition crisis. In February of this year, Hanegbi was appointed to be responsible for Prime Minister Netanyahu to formulate a compromise on the route of prayer at the Western Wall. In recent weeks, Hanegbi has held talks with representatives of the ultra-Orthodox parties in which it has become clear that they will not agree to any compromise that will not include the cancellation of the joint administration of the Western Wall, in which the Reform and Conservative movements are supposed to be represented.

The Prime Minister claimed at the meeting that it would have been possible to reach quiet agreements with the Western Wall that would have prevented the crisis surrounding the route of the prayer. “The activism of American Jewry does not always help,” said Netanyahu, “I intend to bring about a partial solution. The future of the Jewish people will be determined in Israel, and we should not neglect our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, and especially in the United States. ”

 

 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in response that the decision harms relations within the Jewish people. “The layout of the prayer at the Western Wall approved in the manner presented by the then cabinet secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, who is not suspected of leading an anti-religious agenda or of harassing the ultra-Orthodox,” Lieberman said. “Even the ministers of the Jewish home, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, voted in favor of the plan, and the cancellation of the decision today constitutes a severe blow to the unity of the Jewish people, Jewish communities and the fabric of relations between the State of Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora.”

Minister Uri Ariel said that if this outline were implemented, it would harm the status of the Chief Rabbinate. Steinitz, who voted against a freeze on the plan, said at the meeting that it was not a blow to the authority of the Chief Rabbinate or the Orthodox stream.

At the end of January 2016, the government approved the establishment of a prayer area for men and women at the Southern Wall, to serve as congregants from the Reform and Conservative streams in Judaism. The ultra-Orthodox representatives in the government voted against the decision but did not see it as a pretext for a coalition crisis. Only after harsh criticism was leveled at them by the ultra-Orthodox media did Shas and United Torah Judaism threaten that if the outline were implemented, they would leave the coalition.

In recent months, the ultra-Orthodox parties have intensified their struggle against the Western Wall and have even initiated a bill to repeal it. The bill turned the issue of the Western Wall into a potential coalition crisis. In February of this year, Hanegbi was appointed to be responsible for Prime Minister Netanyahu to formulate a compromise on the route of prayer at the Western Wall. In recent weeks, Hanegbi has held talks with representatives of the ultra-Orthodox parties in which it has become clear that they will not agree to any compromise that will not include the cancellation of the joint administration of the Western Wall, in which the Reform and Conservative movements are supposed to be represented.


Since then, the plan has been frozen and the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the United States view this as a sign of the government’s withdrawal from the agreements reached with them and are conducting a public campaign against the Israeli government within the American Jewish community. In March, Netanyahu and Hanegbi met with representatives of the Reform movement in Israel and the United States, and the prime minister made it clear that he was committed to a plan approved by the government and was trying to find a compromise that would allow it to be implemented. “From a serious crisis in relations between Israel and American Jewry if the government in Jerusalem withdraws from the prayer line at the Western Wall.

“The fact that the prime minister, who himself initiated and led the Western Wall, collapses and repeats the historical decision is a badge of poverty for the government, and especially for the service that was discovered in full force,” said Anat Hoffman, head of Women of the Wall. When they used their voices against the women. ”

“The government of Israel surrendered to the ultra-Orthodox parties and left the Jewish communities around the world shocked,” said Yizhar Hess, director general of the Masorti Movement in Israel, “I am grateful to Minister Lieberman and Minister Steinitz who voted against me, Really surprised, about the other ministers, headed by the prime minister. ”

The movement’s director-general, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, said that the movement’s decision to appeal to the High Court of Justice: “The government’s decision is a disgraceful act of submission to the pressures of the ultra-Orthodox parties and severely harms the fundamental interests of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. An anti-Zionist move that harms Israel’s relations with the Diaspora and weakens the connection of millions of Jews to Jerusalem. “

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