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Bibi defends controversial Kotel decision

  • JTAnetanyahuKotel2 2
Netanyahu says he didn’t betray anyone by effectively cancelling a historic agreement to provide a non-Orthodox space at the Kotel, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, and caving to the interests of his Haredi Orthodox coalition partners.
by BEN SALES | Jun 29, 2017

Far from killing the compromise, he believes the vote has given it new life. And far from betraying Diaspora Jewry, he says the vote shows his concern for Jews around the world.

A senior Israeli official provided some insight into Netanyahu's defence of the vote freezing the 2016 Western Wall agreement: why he did it, what the vote leaves in place and what it means moving forward.

The agreement, which was passed by the Cabinet in January last year, has three components. First is a physical expansion and upgrade of the non-Orthodox prayer section south of the familiar Western Wall plaza. Second is the construction of a shared entrance to the Orthodox and non-Orthodox sections. Third is the creation of a government-appointed, interdenominational Jewish committee to govern the non-Orthodox section.

Last Sunday's decision, the senior official said, leaves in place the physical expansion of the prayer site while suspending the creation of the interdenominational committee. Netanyahu's Haredi partners, the official said, objected to the idea that the committee amounted to state recognition of non-Orthodox Judaism.

With the controversy over the committee frozen, the official said, actual building at the site can start unhindered and will be expedited.

“The symbolic piece was holding the practical piece hostage," the official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, told JTA. "What was frozen yesterday, was the symbolic part. The practical part of advancing the prayer arrangements, that can now move forward. Regrettably, there are those on both sides who are spinning this as cancellation.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 David B 11 Jul
    It is hard to believe that Netanyahu can spin this situation into a positive for Non-Orthodox Jews--- there is nothing positive in it for us , other than the belief that the Haredi eventually rule in Israel as they have the power to influence the government to exclude the non -Orthodox once again.
     it is way over time time that Israel finally recognise the non- orthodox Jews as an integral part of the overall religion. the Haredi need to understand that they are in the minority and contribute very little to the state of Israel other than in their own minds.   

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