Jewish groups cancel meetings with Netanyahu in protest

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ditched plans for a space where men and women can pray together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in a decision that has created a schism with non-Orthodox Jews worldwide.

In freezing the plan, Netanyahu backed away from an agreement reached in January 2016 after five years of negotiations, in which a space where men and women could pray together would be established at the southern end of the Western Wall.

The Board of Governors unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Israeli cabinet to walk back its move, marking the first time the Jewish Agency has called for the reversal of a government decision.

The agreement would have doubled to almost 10,000 square feet - half the size of the Orthodox main section just to its north - a section where men and women could pray together on the western side of the Temple Mount. Holding the belief that a Jewish state can not legitimately exist until the arrival of the Messiah, these groups, despite having a significant demographic presence in Israel, continually clash with the Israeli government over issues of state power.

Today's decision dealt a blow to efforts to promote religious pluralism in Israel and is likely to upset liberal streams of Judaism that represent most Jews in the United States.

Freezing the compromise only deepens "the already accelerating divide between Diaspora Jews and Israel, precisely at a time when Jewish unity has never been more important", Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of NY, said in a statement Monday.

The decision announced on Sunday comes after the charedi United Torah Judaism party and the Sephardi Orthodox Shas party, both members of the current government, put pressure on Netanyahu to scrap the agreement, including threatening to leave the coalition government.

"It is important to Prime Minister Netanyahu that every Jew is able to pray at the Western Wall", Braverman said in the statement, adding: "I recommend that those trying to exploit this issue be precise with the facts".

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"If we expect Jews overseas to support the state of Israel, we must also ensure their religious equality". Before that Israel's Reform and Conservative movements-and the activist group Women of the Wall-petitioned country's Supreme Court to force the government to follow through with the plan last September.

"Four years ago, in my capacity as Minister of Yerushalayim Affairs...at night, I quietly had a nice deck built, called Israel plaza", Bennett said. In another controversial decision Sunday, his government promoted a bill to maintain the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over conversions.

You may have noticed during his May stay in Israel, President Trump, a Presbyterian, and wife Melania, a Roman Catholic, were split and stood to pray separately before the ancient wall, according to Orthodox custom.

The decision was a "de-facto cancellation of the plan", the ultra-Orthodox parties said in a joint statement, noting it could only be changed by a further government decision.

"We made a mistake".

The two ultra-Orthodox parties control only 13 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, but they make up a more substantial part of Netanyahu's 66-seat coalition.

"It's a awful day for women in Israel when the prime minister sacrifices their rights while kowtowing to a handful of religious extremists, who want to enforce their religious customs while intentionally violating the rights of the majority of the Jewish world, 51 percent being women", Hoffman continued.

The ultra-Orthodox movement adheres to a very strict interpretation of Jewish law and does not consider the Reformed and Conservative movements to be true forms of Judaism.

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