Netanyahu says the controversial government decision to maintain the status quo at the Western Wall does not alter the fact that Jews from all streams are free to pray at their holy site.
Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman clarified the Israeli government’s position concerning prayer rights at the Western Wall following its latest decision on the issue, which caused outrage among Reform Jews and their supporters.
The Reform movement had won approval for an upgrade of its area in the Western Wall plaza so it would have the same status as the traditional, separate male and female prayer sections. Due to opposition from ultra-orthodox parties as well as some members of Minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, the government shelved the plan and decided instead to maintain the status quo for the time being.
“It is important to Prime Minister Netanyahu that every Jew is able to pray at the Western Wall,” Braverman stressed, explaining that the Israeli leader had issued three directives that have largely gone unnoticed.
“First, the Prime Minister instructed that work to prepare the southern plaza be expedited so that Jews from all streams may pray at the Western Wall,” he said.
“Second, that Jews from all streams be able to continue praying there – as they are able to do today”.
“Third, the Prime Minister instructed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and me to continue dialogue in order to try and reach a solution.”
In a video message, Bennett addressed Reform Jewry’s concerns, explaining that men and women belonging to the Reform movement may continue to pray together freely at the Israel Plaza next to the Southern Wall, which is an extension of the Western Wall.
The Western Wall decision has been criticized and described in much of the Jewish media as undermining relations between Jews in Israel and those outside of the Jewish state, particularly American Jews. However, the criticism does not address the fact that Orthodox Diaspora Jews in the US, Europe and elsewhere support the Western wall status quo.
By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News