People at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The government plan regarding an expanded egalitarian section of the Western Wall was rejected yet again on Wednesday, when it was brought to a vote in the form of a bill.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai submitted the legislation in February, in an attempt to prod the government to implement the plan.
However, the government voted to freeze the Kotel compromise a week-and-a-half ago, leading to vocal protests from American Jewry and some in Israel.
Shai brought his bill to a vote on Wednesday as part of those protests, in an attempt to avoid a “strategic crisis with Diaspora Jewry.” The proposal is a wordfor- word reproduction of the cabinet decision; it was rejected in a 44-24 vote.
“This government chose delay tactics to not deal with the Kotel plan,” Shai said.
“This decision tears to shreds the written and unwritten agreement between the Jewish people and Israel, and proves that this government prefers political considerations over the long, broad, historic connection between it and the Jewish people in the Diaspora.”
Throughout Shai’s speech, he was heckled by coalition lawmakers, including MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism and MK Oren Hazan of the Likud.
Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who was tasked with finding a new solution for the Kotel, said Shai’s bill was unnecessary.
Even though the plan originally approved by the government was canceled, nearly NIS 20 million will be invested in expanding the egalitarian section on the southern end of the Western Wall, he explained.
“We need a dialogue about the Kotel, which is an asset for the entire Jewish people.
There’s no reason for it to be controversial,” Hanegbi said.