Bill criminalizing progressive prayer at Kotel ‘hard to stop’

Official calls legislation a "disaster abroad but necessity here."

January 2, 2017 21:14
1 minute read.
Western Wall

Western Wall. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Stopping Shas’ bill which criminalizes pluralistic Jewish prayer at the Western Wall and Robinson’s Arch will be extremely difficult, a senior government official said on Monday, describing the bill as disastrous and a “landmine.”

Shas’ bill was introduced to the Knesset last month and will be brought to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for passage to its first preliminary reading in the Knesset next month according to Shas officials.

In reference to the Western Wall resolution passed last January, the official said they were “not optimistic” that the deal, which would create a government recognized pluralist prayer area at the Robinson’s Arch area, would be implemented in the near future.

The source also said he appreciated the severe difficulties implementation would cause to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current coalition.

“Politically, Netanyahu is right, any future prime minister will have to have the haredi parties with them. You can’t have a right-wing prime minister without the haredim [ultra-Orthodox],” said the official.

“[Shas’] bill is a huge issue, it’s a land mine, and I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. [Netanyahu] understands that it’s a disaster abroad but it’s a necessity here.”

The legislation would criminalize anyone participating in progressive prayer services at the Western Wall, including the Robinson’s Arch area, who would be liable to prison sentences and hefty fines.

As well as having the backing of Shas and United Torah Judaism, it is also supported by Likud MKs Oren Hazan, David Amsalem and Miki Zohar, along with Bayit Yehudi MKs Bezalel Smotrich, Moti Yogev and Nissan Slomiansky.

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