Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited the head of the North American Federations, Jerry Silverman, and the directors of the Jewish Federations of New York, Chicago and Cleveland to meet in his office Monday evening and discuss the suspension of the Western Wall prayer outline and the conversion law. All four dignitaries are in Jerusalem for the meeting of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency.
According to Ha’aretz, which reported the invitation on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu did not invite representatives of the Reform or Conservative movements to the meeting, nor did he invite the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky or anyone else who had signed the furious manifesto issued earlier in the day by board members.
Senior Jewish Agency officials told Ha’aretz Sharansky is livid over the government’s decision to cancel the Kotel plan.
Earlier yet on Monday, the Jewish Agency Board of Governors issued a statement saying that “in light of yesterday’s decisions by the Government of Israel, the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel will be changing its entire agenda for the remaining two days of its meetings in Jerusalem, in order to address the ramifications of these decisions. The scheduled dinner with the participation of the Prime Minister has been canceled.”
The new Board of Governors’ Chairman, Michael Siegal told Haaretz that the agency will reexamine its relations with the Israeli government: “We represent the Jewish people, not the Israeli government,” he said, noting that “the Israeli government has taken actions that threaten the Jewish people, and we want the Jewish communities around the world to understand that support for Israel is not necessarily in support of its government.”
The leaders of the Reform movement in the United States and Israel also decided to cancel their meeting with the prime minister, scheduled for Thursday, to protest the suspension of mixed prayer at the Kotel plaza.
While this showdown is taking place, Israeli Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman issued the following comments regarding the Government decision about the Western Wall:
“It is important to Prime Minister Netanyahu that every Jew is able to pray at the Western Wall. Therefore, alongside yesterday’s decision he issued three directives that have gone unnoticed:
“First, the Prime Minister instructed that work to prepare the southern plaza be expedited so that Jews from all streams may pray at the Western Wall.
“Second, that Jews from all streams be able to continue praying there – as they are able to do today.
“Third, the Prime Minister instructed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and me to continue dialogue in order to try and reach a solution.
“I recommend that those trying to exploit this issue be precise with the facts,” Braverman concluded.