Lapid sets January deadline for egalitarian prayer at Kotel

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid listed several reasons why implementing the plan was important to him, including improving relations with Diaspora Jews.

 Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at the cabinet meeting, November 7, 2021.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at the cabinet meeting, November 7, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed at his Yesh Atid faction meeting that he would fight to ensure that the Western Wall agreement facilitating egalitarian prayer at the Kotel will be implemented by the time Attorney-General Mandelblit, who wrote the plan, leaves office in January.

Lapid listed several reasons why implementing the plan was important to him, including improving relations with Diaspora Jews. But, he said, not all ministers in the current government agreed – a reference to Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday called for the agreement, reached five years ago and never implemented, to be “advanced in the month ahead.”

“The Kotel framework was passed in a government led by [former prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and then frozen when Netanyahu gave in to [Shas leader] Arye Deri and [United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov] Litzman,” Liberman said. “It is a reasonable solution. Now is the time to implement it.”

Labor leader Merav Michaeli said her faction would insist on implementing the Kotel deal, and praised the role of Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai and Labor MK Gilad Kariv on the issue.

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

Liberman said he did not see a reason to add Shas or UTJ to the coalition. He said those parties would prevent reforms in conversion, kosher certification and implementing the Kotel agreement.

But Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich warned that the government would harm Israel’s Jewish identity and accused Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana of being “a puppet sent by Liberman to implement the Kotel framework.”

Liberman urged MKs in the governing coalition to do what is necessary to keep the government together on Monday in a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction at the Knesset.

“Passing the budget created an asset called political stability,” Liberman said.

He called upon MKs in his coalition not to surprise or shame other coalition MKs, in order to keep that stability. He said he himself would do everything possible to keep the coalition stable.

While Liberman called for focusing on what was agreed upon in the coalition agreement, he said he would back bills on term limits for prime minister and prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government, even though those bills are not in the agreement.