The stage at the 2017 AIPAC conference..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a sign of the growing fallout from the cabinet’s decision to cancel the Kotel deal, AIPAC’s top leadership will arrive in Israel on Wednesday for high-level talks with Israeli government officials.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee delegation is being led by the organization’s President Lillian Pinkus and CEO Howard Kohr. Israeli officials who were in touch with AIPAC said the lobby organization is concerned that the Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to cancel an earlier decision to build an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall could undermine support for Israel in Congress.
“Part of the support for Israel on Capitol Hill is based on the idea that Israel is a democracy and safeguards peoples’ freedom and rights,” one official said. “The cabinet decision sends a different message.”
On Sunday, the cabinet overturned a previous decision it had made in January 2016 to construct a third prayer plaza for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. Under that decision, a special committee was also supposed to be formed to be jointly manned by members of the different movements and the government.
Earlier this week, the Global Conservative Movement issued a fiery statement on the topic, saying, "Because we love Israel and see the rising influence of an intolerant religious establishment as an existential threat to its future and to the unity of the Jewish people, we will not rest until these decisions not only are overturned, but also until Israel fulfills the promise of its Zionist origins and founding declaration to ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’ and to ‘guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture."
The Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements in Israel have called for a rally against the government's decision. The protest is to be held outside the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night.