Support for Israel could wane with Western Wall deal frozen, Presidents Conference warns


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An erosion of American Jewish support for Israel could result from the freezing of the Western Wall agreement, an influential Jewish umbrella group said in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It is imperative that the government move expeditiously to address this matter and come up with a resolution that is equitable to all, as you sought to do in the agreement that was reached before,” read the letter sent Wednesday by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents more than 50 national Jewish groups.

“Given all the challenges facing Israel and American Jewry, this is a time when achdut, unity, is more important than ever. A lack of unity could lead to an erosion of support, which has been identified by Israel’s National Security Council as a vital security asset for Israel.”

Stephen Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, the chairman and executive vice chairman, respectively, of the Presidents Conference, signed the letter.

On Sunday, the Israeli government voted to suspend most of the compromise passed in January 2016 by the Cabinet dealing with the status of the non-Orthodox section of the Western Wall.  The compromise would have expanded the non-Orthodox prayer section south of the main Western Wall plaza, created a shared entrance to all prayer areas and appointed an interdenominational council to oversee the non-Orthodox section.

The freezing of the agreement “has evoked very strong feelings as it touched on deeply sensitive issues that are both personal and communal,” according to the letter. It also said that different points of view on the issue “can and must be brought into harmony to enable a way forward without intimidation, threats, or feelings of exclusion.”

The leaders cautioned that “delay will only exacerbate tensions and make an equitable outcome more difficult.”

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