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July 19, 2021 9:23 am
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Gantz: ‘Western Wall Long Enough to Accommodate All Parts of Israeli Society’

avatar by i24 News

A general view shows the plaza of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, amid the coronavirus pandemic, May 6, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

i24 News – Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the controversy over the egalitarian prayer section of Jerusalem’s Western Wall in a meeting with Blue and White party activists ahead of the annual fasting holiday of Tisha B’Av.

Tensions escalated Saturday night on the eve of the holiday commemorating the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem after a group of right-wing Orthodox Jews disrupted a reading of the Book of Lamentations by the Conservative movement.

“The Western Wall is long enough to accommodate all parts of Israeli society. I am in favor of Orthodox leadership, but I am not in favor of Orthodox exclusivity,” the leader of the Blue and White party said in a video message.

“That’s why we made the arrangement of the extension,” Gantz continued. ”Poking a finger in the eye may give you a sense of satisfaction in an unjustified moment, but it causes long-term damage. So I am of course against these things as I do not think it should happen the other way around. There should be no demonstrations at the Western Wall when we have the intended extension for this on the other side.”

The Orthodox activists reportedly sang during the reading of the Book of Lamentations by the Conservative Jews, making it difficult to hear the reading, and also set up a gender-separation divider and prevented some of the Conservative worshippers from entering the site who had arrived later.

In a Facebook post about Tisha B’Av, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of disunity, saying that the Jewish people have twice previously lost an independent state because of “civil wars and baseless hatred.”

“Now that we have, for the third time, an independent state, and we are in its eighth decade, we must do everything we can to preserve it — forever and ever,” Bennett said.

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