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Progressive Jewish groups to hold government meeting on Western Wall deal

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The egalitarian plaza at the Western Wall, known as 'Robinson's Arch' or 'Ezrat Yisrael,' seen on December 30, 2021, in Jerusalem's Old City. (Amy Spiro)
The egalitarian plaza at the Western Wall, known as 'Robinson's Arch' or 'Ezrat Yisrael,' seen on December 30, 2021, in Jerusalem's Old City. (Amy Spiro)

The heads of the Reform and Conservative movements will meet with the cabinet secretary tomorrow for an update on the implementation of the so-called Western Wall compromise, a long-stalled deal to give non-Orthodox streams of Judaism a voice in the management of the Jerusalem holy site.

This will be the first meeting of the heads of these movements with the Prime Minister’s Office since February, which was itself the first such meeting in several years, following a bitter fallout between former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and non-Orthodox Jewish groups over the freezing of the Western Wall compromise in 2016.

Though Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attended the meeting with the heads of the Reform and Conservative movements in February — a meeting described by all participants as particularly warm and friendly — the premier is not expected to do so tomorrow. Instead it will be led by Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo, according to two people due to attend the meeting.

Shlomo is expected to update the heads of the movements — some from Israel and others visiting from the United States — on developments regarding the Western Wall compromise, which has remained frozen under the current administration due to opposition from more right-wing members of the coalition.

No dramatic updates on the matter are expected, Yizhar Hess, the former head of Israel’s Conservative movement, who will attend tomorrow’s meeting, tells The Times of Israel.

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