Reform group Women of the Wall at the Kotel (illustration)
Reform group Women of the Wall at the Kotel (illustration) Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The ongoing uproar over the government's decision to recognize the Reform movement and allocate a second non-Orthodox prayer space at the Kotel (Western Wall) for it is to reach a decisive moment on Sunday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - who has been accused by United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler of having been "bought" by the Reform Jews - is to meet on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

In the meeting they will discuss the coalition government's decision around three weeks ago to create a new prayer space for Reform and Conservative Jews at the Kotel and remove the area from the authority of the rabbinate, transferring it to the control of the Prime Minister's Office in a breach of the status quo.

Aside from Netanyahu and the chief rabbis, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman (UTJ) and chairperson of the Knesset Finance Committee MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) are to also take part in the meeting.

Sources close to Rabbi Lau told Arutz Sheva on Saturday night that he intends to demand Netanyahu cancel the governmental recognition given to the Reform movement, and insist that the Reform community not be allowed to manage the planned new prayer space.

Involved sources on the other side of the spectrum say the rabbis will have a hard time, because according to the claims of legal sources any change in the government's decision would constitute a cancellation of the decision, something that Netanyahu currently doesn't intend to do.

Minister Ariel's protest

In a sign of the great tension over Sunday's meeting, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) has announced he will skip the government meeting tomorrow and instead take a protest tour of the Kotel.

Rabbis, public figures and activists are to tour the Kotel Plaza in order to express their support for maintaining the status quo, by which the rabbinate decides on the management of religious holy sites.

Ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with the chief rabbis on Sunday, Ariel met with Religious Services Minister David Azulai (Shas).

In the meeting Ariel asked Azulai to delay his signing of the decision to create a new Reform prayer space at the Kotel, which joins the Ezrat Yisrael non-Orthodox prayer section created for them back in 2013.

Ariel opposed the decision on the new prayer space, and last week sent a letter to the chief rabbis and members of the Chief Rabbinate council expressing his desire that Jewish tradition be preserved at the Kotel.

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