'Coalition should have collapsed on Reform Kotel'

Ex-Minister Yishai slams haredi and religious parties for not saying 'no' to new prayer space, calls Reform 'disappearing Judaism.'

Hezki Baruch,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai, head of the Yachad - Ha'am Itanu party that just missed out in the last elections on a joint list with Otzma Yehudit, expressed his strong opposition to the recent decision to create another Reform prayer space at the Western Wall (Kotel).

The new non-Orthodox egalitarian prayer space adds to a previous space built in 2013. It has been warned that the new prayer space ramp will cover the last remaining site testifying to the destruction of the Second Temple.

Yishai, formerly head of the Shas party, strongly condemned the haredi and religious parties for not taking a stronger stance on the matter in an interview with Kol Barama radio on Sunday.

"I heard that the Cabinet Secretary met with the haredi and religious members of Knesset and ministers and showed them the decision" to build the new Reform and Conservative prayer space, said Yishai.

"The moment they submitted this decision I would have told the Cabinet Secretary that if it reaches the government (for a vote), you don't have a government," he said.

The former minister noted that "in this case, they should have come and said 'you don't have a government.' (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu is concerned for his government, he does everything in order to preserve his government. And this wouldn't have passed."

"I sat nearly 20 years in Israeli governments and I know dramatic and significant decisions that created huge crises, and we knew how to say no. Here it's very strange to me, the Reform Jews are not a movement of progressive Judaism, but rather a movement of disappearing Judaism."

Yishai's comments reference the situation in the US, where the majority of Jews identify as Reform and intermarriage rates are over 50%, meaning the Jewish presence is rapidly vanishing.

Speaking about his political future, the former MK said, "I meet with the prime minister, with the president, ministers and Knesset members and tell them my opinion about what needs to be done. I met with (Kulanu head) Moshe Kahlon a few months ago and also at an event, and soon I'm to meet him again."

"These meetings are very important, I will enlist the experience I gathered in recent years for the benefit of the public."

Regarding his prospects of running together with Kahlon in the next elections, Yishai said, "there is so much speculation, we will run as the Yachad movement with God's help. We are running as the Yachad movement, no one knows when there will be elections - I imagine that they will be a lot sooner than everyone expects. In any case we are building the party, strengthening it for the future."




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