Likud MK 'offered' closing Western Wall egalitarian section to Noam

The Likud party denied the report, saying “no one would close” the egalitarian section of the Western Wall.

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September 6, 2019 01:57
2 minute read.
The ruins of the Second Temple that sit next to a part of the Western Wall

The ruins of the Second Temple that sit next to a part of the Western Wall. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly gave permission to a Likud MK to offer to close the egalitarian section at the Western Wall in return for the far-right, anti-LGBT Noam party quitting the September 17 election.

Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post however that “the report was ridiculous. I did not authorize to anyone directly or indirectly on this.”

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, Likud MK Miki Zohar initiated a meeting with the leaders of the hard-line religious-Zionist party to find a way of getting them to drop out of the race.

He reportedly offered to close the egalitarian section for pluralist prayer at the Robinson’s Arch area of the southern end of the Western Wall, which Noam and its rabbinical backers, including Rabbi Tzvi Tau, vehemently oppose.

Zohar also offered to formally bury the Nissim Commission proposals for reforming Israel’s state conversion authority, which hard-liners in the religious-Zionist community oppose because it would remove the body from the authority of the Chief Rabbinate.

Zohar told Yediot that he had initiated the meeting, but had received approval from Netanyahu to do it. He added that Noam had not been amenable to the idea.

Zohar subsequently denied on Twitter that he had offered to close the egalitarian section, saying he had merely explained that “wasted” votes on the right could help Noam’s ideological opponents into power.

The Noam party said that Zohar had made “different offers so that the party withdraws its candidacy for the Knesset and would support United Torah Judaism.”

It said however that it had rejected these offers and would be running in the upcoming poll.

The Likud party denied the report, saying “no one would close” the egalitarian section of the Western Wall.

Netanyahu has been seeking several political agreements with small far-right parties to convince them to drop out and thus prevent right-wing votes from being discounted should these parties fail to cross the electoral threshold.

Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid expressed outrage at the decision, saying that “in return for half a mandate, the prime minister is offering a group of delusional extremists in Noam to complete the destruction of Israel’s ties with the majority of the Jewish world.”

Lapid said Netanyahu “lost what is left of his national responsibility.”

The executive-director of the Masorti Movement (Conservative Judaism in Israel), Dr. Yizhar Hess, said the report was “extremely troubling,” but welcomed that the Likud had formally denied the report.

He said however that any attempt to close the egalitarian section would create a huge crisis with the Jewish Diaspora, “which would be irreparable.”


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