Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to remove Minister Miri Regev as the head of the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places in an effort to mend the rift between the State of Israel and Reform and Conservative Jews over an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall.
The prime minister said earlier this week a solution will soon be found for the Kotel crisis, with the committee due to approve construction work to expand the mixed-gender prayer area at Robinson's Arch, south of the main Western Wall plaza.
Netanyahu and Regev coordinated the move, and the minister in turn claimed on Facebook that she was resigning from the committee's chairmanship due to her conscientious objection to expanding the egalitarian prayer area.
"In recent months, I've had difficult deliberations. My conscience gave me no peace. I could not approve the Western Wall plan in a way that would've changed the way things are," Regev wrote.
"The Reforms' demand to turn the Western Wall into a place where women and men pray together is unacceptable to me or to Israel's tradition," she continued. "I've decided to stay true to my conscience, and therefore I informed the prime minister I had no intention of approving the Western Wall plan as part of my authority as the chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places."
The minister went on to say that "any person has the right to visit the Western Wall and pray to the Creator, but on the condition he does so out of respect for the place and for Israel's tradition. We returned to the holiest of our sites not to disgrace it. I believe and hope we will preserve the sanctity of the Western Wall and respect it."
The chairmanship over the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places will now automatically pass on to the prime minister, in accordance with government procedures.