Lapid indicates Western Wall deal will take time

Cabinet secretary denies that implementation will be delayed for ‘substantive period of time’.

 Women at the Western Wall. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Women at the Western Wall.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid has indicated that the Western Wall agreement will not be swiftly implemented despite the urging of liberal elements in the coalition, although he repeated his support for the proposal itself.

“I support the [Western Wall] plan, but it isn’t possible to do everything all at once,” Lapid told the press at the beginning of the Yesh Atid faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday.

“We have four years and we will advance a great deal of things during them.”

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana has grown skeptical as to the political wisdom of advancing the agreement at present, and reportedly told aides over the weekend that the government was going to delay implementation.

Authority over the issue lies with the Prime Minister’s Office, however, and Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo.

 Members of the Women of the Wall movement hold Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, November 5, 2021.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Members of the Women of the Wall movement hold Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, November 5, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

In response to written questions from The Jerusalem Post, Shlomo denied that the government wanted to delay implementation “for a substantive period of time,” saying the issue was “being dealt with.”

But he concurred with Lapid that it is not possible to achieve all of the government’s goals at once.

Labor Party chairwoman and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said at her faction meeting that the issue “has not come off the agenda, and it will happen as the government told the High Court of Justice,” adding, “We will progress step by step, as we promised.”

And Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman told his Yisrael Beytenu faction that he is against making any changes to the Western Wall framework. 

He said then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud ministers supported the plan as is then, and therefore there is no reason "to reinvent the wheel.”

In his recent comments, Kahana is said to have noted that the Likud Party is using the issue of the Western Wall agreement to further exacerbate societal divides and use them for political purposes, adding that the government should not play into this strategy by advancing the proposal at present.

A spokesman for the minister said those comments had been taken out of context and noted that Kahana did not have authority over implementation anyway.