World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel's government on Sunday cancelled a landmark deal to create a space for women and men to pray together at the Western Wall, angering activists who have fought for the change for years.
The deal to alter rules at one of Judaism's holiest sites was called off following pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition.
Ultra-Orthodox coalition members Shas and United Torah Judaism said on Sunday that Netanyahu had accepted their position to "freeze" the plan, a move that "reflects the will of most of the nation that seeks to safeguard the Western Wall's sanctity and status".
Progressive Jewish activists had long sought to change the rule in the face of strong opposition from the ultra-Orthodox establishment, which oversees religious activity at the Western Wall.
In what was hailed a "historic" deal, Israel's cabinet had in January 2016 approved a plan to create a third section at the Western Wall where women and men would be allowed to pray together.
The new prayer section would not have been under the control of the ultra-Orthodox establishment, which opposed it and managed to prevent its implementation until this point.
Sunday's vote by the cabinet effectively cancelled the deal.
The decision was a "de-facto cancellation of the plan," the ultra-Orthodox parties said in a joint statement, noting it could only be changed by a further government decision.
Shas and UTJ also stressed the importance of cancelling the agreement before an upcoming court ruling.
Israel's supreme court is expected to soon rule on a petition filed by more liberal religious movements to force the government to implement the decision to create the mixed prayer space.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Haziran 2017, 18:54