Press Release

IDI Response to Western Wall Decision

IDI President Yohanan Plesner expressed grave disappointment at the government’s decision to freeze progress on the Western Wall compromise.

"The government's decision to freeze the implementation of the Western Wall egalitarian prayer plan is a strategic victory for the phenomenon of political extortion, at the expense of the national interest. This development is a direct result of structural failures in our electoral system," he said.

"The longer we fail to give equal rights and recognition to the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, the deeper the fissure between Israel and Jews of the Diaspora will become. If we expect Jews abroad to remain engaged in the affairs of the state of Israel, we must also ensure their religious equality. Israel’s national security is at stake.

"The decision not to decide, and leave the situation in limbo, widens the gap that has been opening up in the strategic and all-important relationship between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

"The inability of the government to make a minor decision, such as the approval of the Western Wall deal that had already been approved by the ultra-Orthodox parties, is creating an absurd reality - whereby decision-making on issues of religion and state will continue to be completely controlled by a small minority. The time has come for courageous decision making: to advance religious freedom so as to allow everyone to exercise their right to freedom of worship," Plesner said.

IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern also reacted:

“The government's decision to freeze the Western Wall compromise is another case of backtracking from its responsibility for maintaining freedom of religion at the Western Wall,” said Stern. “The decision prevents the implementation of a fitting solution that was already passed by the government and that could have resolved a practical and symbolic dispute with the Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism. By suspending the implementation, the government is effectively abdicating the decision to the Supreme Court in yet another example of this government mocking Diaspora Jewry and freedom of religion, and not taking responsibility for issues that are within its authority.”

Background: Israel’s cabinet voted Sunday to freeze implementation of a decision to create formal egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, backtracking on legislation that was passed earlier this year after extended negotiations between the government, the Jewish Agency and representatives of the religious streams.

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