The Israeli Government dropped a bombshell Sunday when it announced that it will not support a compromise at the Western Wall, the Kotel. Because the ultra-Orthodox refuse to allow men and women to pray together at the Wall and because they hold a monopoly over the current Western Wall Plaza, a compromise was negotiated thru the good offices of Natan Sharansky, former Head of the Jewish Agency, in which a third section (to the right of the Wall) was set aside for egalitarian prayer for the Reform and Conservative movements. This was supposedly agreed and had Government support. But, now after several years of negotiations, the Government has reneged on the deal.
This is a slap in the face of the Diaspora movements as well as Israeli affiliates and leaves the situation as it was, with the ultra-Orthodox in charge of everything. Also, the Government backed out of a deal over control of conversions in Israel and they remain in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. These setbacks can only be seen as a casualty of the Coalition Government system in Israel, in which the Netanyahu Government feels it is forced to avoid policies that will upset the ultra-Orthodox, who might then leave the Coalition and bring down the Government. So instead they have dropped a very necessary compromise solution to a difficult problem.
Israel is not the only country with a Coalition system, now the UK with a minority Conservative Government has formed a Coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. Their agreement was announced today. It seems tht in order to get their support PM Theresa May was forced to agree to pay an extra billion pounds to N. Ireland. It’s blackmail, but that is the way the system works. How they will handle the problem of the Northern Ireland-Irish Republic border remains to be seen. It was supposed to be a “soft” border, like the rest of the EU. But, now that the UK is leaving the EU, that becomes the border between an EU and a non-EU state, hence a “hard” border, which contravenes the Irish Good Friday Peace Treaty.