Netanyahu says will handle Western Wall plan himself
After removing Miri Regev as head of the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places due to her objection to expanding the egalitarian prayer area, the prime minister asks Likud ministers if anyone is willing to replace the culture minister as the committee head but is met with silence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear to his ministers on Sunday that he would personally handle the Western Wall plan in an effort to mend the rift between the State of Israel and Reform and Conservative Jews over an egalitarian prayer area at the holy site.
Last week, Netanyahu decided to remove Culture Minister Miri Regev as the head of the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places after she refused to approve the suggested plan for a designated area for women’s prayer at the Western Wall.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked requested to quit the committee as well.
In a Likud ministers meeting, Netanyahu turned to his ministers and asked for a volunteer to replace Regev in the committee but was met with silence. None of the ministers expressed a willingness to accept the position.
Later, during the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said he would take responsibility for the issue and failed to mention who would lead the committee instead of Regev.
Minister Regev addressed the issue before the cabinet meeting, saying: “The prime minister has the authority to remove ministers and Knesset members’ authorities. Just like he appointed me chairwoman of the Committee for Holy Places, he can remove my authority.
“I have said several times that I oppose the Western Wall plan as it was presented to me. The prime minister has the right to see things in a systemic and wider manner. That’s his decision, and I of course respect him and the decision.”
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said, however, that “this state is being run by a government of cowards. Not a single minister is willing to lead the Western Wall plan. The ministers, who know how to shout into microphones, just sat there silently. They are paralyzed by their fear of the Haredim and are willing to sacrifice their connection with the world Jewry and keep humiliating Jews who won’t fall in line with the Chief Rabbinate.
“Israel needs a brave new government leading a good policy, not one that runs to the media with destructive laws and keeps quiet when it actually needs to take action. Cowards, we’ve had enough of you.”