Report: Gov’t Shelves Plan for Kosel Egalitarian Plaza

YERUSHALAYIM -
People daven at the Kosel in the rain, last week. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana have frozen plans to implement a deal that would accommodate mixed-gender services at the Kosel.

The arrangement, negotiated for over three years, was approved in 2016 but suspended by former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the following year.

Bennett and Kahana have delayed the plan again and, according to the Hebrew publication Zman Yisrael, might give up on it completely.

Reasons for the decisions include recent efforts by the right wing to use the compromise to fuel incitement in Israeli society against the government.

“The Kosel outline has become a focus for incitement and hatred,” Kahana said over the weekend, the Times of Israel reported.

“We cannot play into their hands. We’re freezing everything at the moment. We’re not touching it,” he added.

Kahana initially wanted to revive the 2017 proposal but decided against it.

“We cannot be a source of conflict,” the minister said.

Bennett and Kahana’s decision goes against commitments made by party leaders in their coalition, including recent commitments. The move could therefore spark disagreements within the coalition, which represents a diverse electorate and includes parties committed to improving ties with the Reform and Conservative groups.

However, Kahana will continue to promote his conversion and kashrus reforms.