Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party sits with other ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government during a Knesset session, November 23.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler said on Monday that the party would not leave the coalition because of the agreement to create an upgraded pluralist prayer space at the Robinsons’s Arch area of the Western Wall.
The agreement reached between the government and the non-Orthodox denominations along with the Women of the Wall organization in January has created consternation within the haredi political and rabbinic leadership, although party leaders from UTJ and Shas were indirectly involved in the negotiations.
Strong hints have been made in recent days and weeks, including by Eichler himself, that the haredi parties would topple the government if the agreement was not changed, but the party now appears to be changing its stance.
Eichler, who was fiercely critical once again of the Reform and Conservative Movements, told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday night that UTJ would remain in the coalition and fight against the Western Wall agreement from inside the government.
“UTJ wants to stay in the government and Netanyahu wants to remain the prime minister. The one breaking the government apart is him not us,” said Eichler
“We will not quit. We will not give the Reform [Movement] this pleasure. They want us to quit but we will stay inside [the government] and protect the holiness of the Western Wall,” he continued, alluding to possible retribution the party could take within the coalition by stalling government legislation.
The MK denounced the agreement itself, labeling the non-Orthodox proponents of the pluralist prayer space “provocateurs” and “the Reform Neturei Karta” in reference to the notoriously extreme anti-Zionist haredi grouping, and said that the “secular regime,” meaning the government, would never allow such provocation in a mosque or church.
“In the al-Aqsa mosque everyone knows that no Muslim in the world can come and ask to change the prayer services, because there is respect of the people of a religion for their religion. The only religion of which its adherents, and the police force of the Jewish state, fights a war against the Jewish religion is the State of Israel,” fumed Eichler.
He said that the plan to upgrade the pluralist prayer space wouldn’t work because the non-Orthodox movements wanted a war with the religious establishment, and said that “if they wanted to pray they would have done so in the current plaza according to the existing regulations or in the [Robinson’s Arch] site allocated to them.
“The majority of the year it’s empty. It’s naive of the people who created the plan to think that this would solve the problem. They wanted a war, and they’ve got a war, because the secular regime and the Reform High Court supports them.”