Bennett accuses opposition of using Kotel for political campaign

Last week, two MKs were threatened by ultra-Orthodox leaders for taking Torah scrolls to the women's section of the Kotel.

 PRAYING AT Robinson’s Arch at the south end of  the Kotel, the section set aside for pluralistic prayer.  (photo credit: ROBERT SWIFT/FLASH90)
PRAYING AT Robinson’s Arch at the south end of the Kotel, the section set aside for pluralistic prayer.
(photo credit: ROBERT SWIFT/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused the opposition of using the Western Wall as a political tool to try and destabilize his government, in a Facebook post on Friday. 

His comments come following a report in Haaretz that chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party Arye Deri has embarked on a fundraising drive to finance a public campaign against the government’s intention to implement the Western Wall agreement for a state-recognized egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the site.

“The Western Wall, this beloved place which is so important to all Jews, the place that unites us generation after generation, in particular after it was liberated by IDF fighters in the Six-Day War, this Kotel, is being used today for a deliberate political campaign, for which money has been raised in order to goad the government,” the prime minister wrote in his Facebook post. 

“Why? Because someone thought it would stick. And maybe it will stick. But the damage will be massive,” said Bennett. 

According to the Haaretz report, Deri’s campaign includes advertisements on social media against the Bennett-Lapid government and eventually large protests against the government’s intention. 

 Head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri reacts during a memorial ceremony marking 26 years since the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri reacts during a memorial ceremony marking 26 years since the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The campaign comes following polling the ultra-Orthodox party did as to what fires up its voters, the report said. 

“Even in times of fierce argument, we must preserve islands of sanctity. Things which we don’t tough. If there is a problem we can solve it through dialogue. 

“You don’t do polls and decide to go with all force on a divisive campaign over the Western Wall. You simply don’t,” added Bennett. 

Last week, Deri and other ultra-Orthodox political leaders had threatened to go to the Western Wall to physically stop Labor MK and Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Blue and White MK Alon Tal from taking a Torah scroll into the site for the Women of the Wall prayer rights group’s monthly prayer service. 

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu even retweeted Deri’s tweet on the issue, despite having himself initiated, supported, and voted for what became the Western Wall agreement. 

The confrontation was avoided after Kariv and Tal decided not to attend the service following a request from President Isaac Herzog.