Knesset Rejects Bill to Establish Non-Orthodox Prayer Section at Western Wall

western wall

The Times of Israel reports: The Knesset on Wednesday rejected a bill proposed by an opposition lawmaker aimed at enshrining in law plans to build a permanent, pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The move was aimed at countering a government decision from two weeks ago to suspend an agreement with liberal Jewish movements to establish the pluralistic prayer plaza. Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, who co-chairs the Knesset caucus responsible for improving Israel’s ties with Jewish communities abroad, said of the rejection of his bill, “This is nothing is new. The government is choosing a tactic of deferring and suspending in order not to deal with the Western Wall deal.”

Shai said his bill, drafted in 2016 but only presented to parliament on Wednesday, was an opportunity to reverse a mistaken decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been facing harsh criticism over a pair of decisions last week to renege on a January 2016 commitment to significantly upgrade the pluralistic prayer area at the Western Wall, and to advance a controversial bill critics say grants the ultra-Orthodox a monopoly over conversions to Judaism in Israel.

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