In shadow of Israel-Diaspora Western Wall crisis, PM meets US Jewish leaders
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In shadow of Israel-Diaspora Western Wall crisis, PM meets US Jewish leaders

Representatives ask Netanyahu to ‘clarify’ his position on egalitarian prayer platform; Israeli leader also meets with Trump envoys Kushner and Greenblatt

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with senior leaders of the US Jewish community in New York, September 17, 2017 (Avi Ohayun/GPO)
Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with senior leaders of the US Jewish community in New York, September 17, 2017 (Avi Ohayun/GPO)

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday afternoon met with eight senior leaders of the American Jewish community to talk about a broad range of issues including Israel-Diaspora relations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran.

The meeting took place on the backdrop of an ongoing crisis between the Israeli government and Diaspora Jewry over Jerusalem’s recent freeze of plans to create a pluralistic prayer platform at the Western Wall, and the decision to advance a controversial conversion bill.

The Jewish leaders “asked the prime minister to clarify to US Jewry what he was doing to create a united prayer platform,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the Prime Minister’s Office. “The meeting took place in an excellent atmosphere.”

The groups represented in the meeting were the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Federations of North America and the American Jewish Committee.

“The conversation dealt with the Iranian issue — both the nuclear issue and Syria and what impact it has on Israel,” the PMO’s readout said.

The future of the 2015 nuclear accord signed between the six world powers and Iran and Tehran’s entrenchment on Israel’s northern border in the framework of an agreement to end the Syrian civil war are the two issues set to dominate Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday. The prime minister is also expected to address these topics at great length during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

The Jewish leaders asked Netanyahu for details on the recent developments within the Palestinian terror group Hamas, following its announcement earlier that it dissolved its Administrative Committee, which runs Gaza, and that it was ready to hold new elections, clearing the way the Palestinian Authority to return to the coastal strip.

During the meeting, which was also attended by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, AIPAC leaders Howard Kohr and Lillian Pinkus invited the prime minister to attend the group’s annual policy conference in early May in Washington, D.C.

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, reportedly also visited Netanyahu in his Manhattan hotel on Sunday, but the PMO did not confirm the meeting.

Later on Sunday, Netanyahu hosted Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, Senior Advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Their meeting reportedly lasted over two hours. The PMO did not issue a readout of the meeting.

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