Lapid, Michaeli lament lack of progress at Kotel

Labor leader: Reform is not a slur

As recently as April 2021, current Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated: ‘I’ll continue to fight for an Israeli recognition of the Armenian genocide.’  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
As recently as April 2021, current Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated: ‘I’ll continue to fight for an Israeli recognition of the Armenian genocide.’
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The leaders of Yesh Atid and Labor on Monday told The Jerusalem Post they condemned former coalition head Idit Silman for saying she defected to the opposition because the government had built a “Reform Kotel.”

Last week, Silman denied defecting because of an offer of a reserved slot on the Likud list and a promise to be appointed health minister. The reason was because of changes made by the government on matters of religion and state that violate the status quo, she said.

“There are things that were not touched for 70 years in any government, even the most left-wing, and now suddenly the status quo of the people of Israel is changing, not only for me and for the haredim [ultra-Orthodox] but for anyone who thinks Shabbat and Jewish identity are important,” Silman told Channel 12. “There is no one to stand and say to stop here. It is happening with kashrut certification, conversion, the Reform Kotel, the Temple Mount and yeshiva students. This gradual collapse will bring down the Jewish state that we have been building for so many years.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Labor leader Merav Michaeli said no progress had been made on implementing the Western Wall agreement, which calls for upgrading the current prayer platform for non-Orthodox prayers at the Robinson Arch area at the southern end of the Western Wall and designating the central Western Wall Plaza for Orthodox prayer only.

“The answer is unfortunately not,” Lapid said. “I believe in the Kotel framework. We do what is possible. There is a renovation plan. I don’t see how it can be implemented now.”

 Yamina MK Idit Silman at the Knesset, April 25, 2022.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Yamina MK Idit Silman at the Knesset, April 25, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Michaeli said: “Labor is ready to do everything possible to advance the Western Wall agreement, and I hope and believe we will make progress.”

She condemned Silman for using the word Reform pejoratively.

“Reform Jews are half of the Jewish people,” Michaeli said. “Many of them, but not all of them, live abroad. Labor took the Diaspora portfolio to help Diaspora Jewry.”

Blue and White MK Alon Tal, who regularly prays at the Western Wall’s egalitarian prayer site, said the only recent upgrade has been the addition of sun umbrellas.

“There are those who say there is a breakthrough in the making, but I am not holding my breath,” he said.