Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said when it comes to egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, he chose a practical approach over one that would touch on deep symbolism.
Netanyahu met with a small group of Jewish representatives Sunday and sought to explain away his government’s decision to renege on an agreement setting a prayer section in which men and women can pray together. He asserted that the work being done to expand nearby Robinson Arch will provide non-Orthodox Jews with the same outcome without angering Orthodox parties in Israel.
“We have ways to solve the kotel issue,” Netanyahu told reporters in New York Monday. “But if you get into symbolic issues, it becomes difficult.” The Israeli prime minister said he was faced with legal challenges by the Reform on the one hand and by a public campaign on the streets of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods on the other, “and my response was to move forward with the practical side.”
Netanyahu noted that all Israeli leaders before him had to deal with similar problems and all came up with ad-hoc solutions.