Bennett to 'Post': Gov’t won’t be able to implement Kotel compromise

“We are in a process of upgrading and enlarging and creating an even more respectable section.”

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stands before a map of the region in his office. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stands before a map of the region in his office.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)

The current government will not be able to implement the plan to formally establish an egalitarian section at the Western Wall, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett admitted this week, in an interview that appears in full here.

Asked why this government has not moved to put the 2016 plan, which Bennett played a large part in drafting as diaspora minister, into effect Bennett called it a “controversial topic in this coalition.”

“We knew in advance that we cannot advance everything,” he said. “We will only act with consensus…This government is meant to save the country and bring it back to function. It cannot fulfill everyone’s wishes.”

Bennett said that members of his own Yamina party oppose the plan to expand the egalitarian Ezrat Israel section at the Southern Wall and create a joint management committee with leaders of the Conservative and Reform Movements. Members of New Hope are against it as well.

The prime minister pointed out that “Ezrat Israel is open and whoever wants to come and pray can do so.”

 THE MASSES pray at the Western Wall during Sukkot. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) THE MASSES pray at the Western Wall during Sukkot. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

“We are in a process of upgrading and enlarging and creating an even more respectable section,” he added.

The government plans to clear the boulder that fell in the egalitarian section in 2018, keeping worshippers at a distance from the wall, and to make other physical improvements, without enacting other parts of the Kotel compromise.

The Western Wall has been an ongoing source of friction between Israel’s leadership and some non-Orthodox segments of Diaspora Jewry for years.

Bennett said that he feels “a special closeness and caring about Diaspora Jewry, especially American Jewry, as someone whose parents grew up as Jews in the US who were unaffiliated.

“I want Diaspora Jews to continue their efforts to feel that they have a home here in Israel. Even if there are disagreements, it’s ok, but we need to keep up communication with them,” he stated.