An Israeli government proxy has provisionally agreed to a deal that gives the right-wing settler Elad-City of David Foundation control of the new egalitarian prayer area adjacent to the Kotel (Western Wall) at Robinson’s Arch in violation of the agreement the government made with the Reform and Conservative Movements through Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
Government Sells Out Conservative And Reform Movements Along With Women Of The Wall, Violates Sharansky Proposals
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An Israeli government proxy has provisionally agreed to a deal that gives the right-wing settler Elad-City of David Foundation control of the new mixed gender or egalitarian prayer area adjacent to the Kotel (Western Wall) at Robinson’s Arch in violation of the agreement the government made with the Reform and Conservative Movements through Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
The Elad-City of David Foundation’s new role was first reported by Ha’aretz.
Economy, Diaspora and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett is ideologically close to the Elad-City of David Foundation. Bennett abruptly built a raised platform for egalitarian prayer at Robinson’s Arch last year in a successful attempt to isolate and neutralize Women of the Wall (WoW).
WoW broke under the pressure caused by Bennett’s unilateral action and, to consternation of many of its longest term members, agreed to give up its claim to pray in the women’s section of the Kotel proper – a claim an Israeli court had recently strongly upheld.
As an inducement, WoW’s top leaders were offered positions of partial control over the egalitarian area that would be shared with the Reform and Conservative Movements.
But now the egalitarian area and the control that comes with it has been given to right wing settlers, instead.
The head of the Israeli Conservative movement Yizhar Hess said the new agreement with Elad-City of David Foundation was a complete surprise to the non-Orthodox groups.
“We were negotiating [with Sharansky and the government] the final details of how it would be managed. It was never mentioned that the City of David Foundation would be the one to actually run the place.…It’s inappropriate that instead of handing it according to the Sharansky plan, it’s another step back from the Sharansky plan,” Hess told JTA.
Sharansky’s proposal, first made last year and provisionally accepted by the non-Orthodox groups and by WoW, created a pluralist council to manage the site.
Ha’aretz reported the move to grant control to the Elad-City of David Foundation was purportedly caused by a rent dispute.
East Jerusalem Development Ltd. managed the Robinson’s Arch archeological site and the Davidson Center there. The quasi-governmental Jewish Quarter Development Corporation (JQDC) owns the land.
The JQDC claims that East Jerusalem Development has not paid rent for several years. It took East Jerusalem Development to court and in December, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled in favor of the JQDC, ordering East Jerusalem Development to pay the back rent and turn the property over to the JQDC by the end of this year.
The JQDC then began looking for new management of the site – knowing full well the egalitarian prayer area was already there and would be expanded and handed over to the non-Orthodox groups and WoW as soon as their deal with the government was finalized.
Elad-City of David Foundation Chairman David Be’eri then supposed suggested that Elad-City of David pay the debts of East Jerusalem Development in exchange for being given control of the site – a proposal the Jerusalem Magistrates Court did not foresee.
The JQDC immediately accepted Elad-City of David’s proposal. That decision was supposedly made because Elad-City of David has experience managing archeological sites in the area.
The JQDC claims it got a legal opinion saying that it did not need to publish a public tender soliciting bids from any other groups to run the site.
Its deal with Elad-City of David is reportedly expected to be finalized soon.
It is extremely likely the deal between JQDC and Elad-City of David was made with Bennett’s knowledge and approval.