Donald Trump’s rise emboldens Benjamin Netanyahu to renege on wall deal

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet voted to renege on a compromise plan for a plaza where women and men could pray together at the Western Wall, the decision was widely viewed as a move to placate ultra-religious parties in the ruling government coalition.

But analysts and former government officials say there’s another key factor at play: The rise of President Donald Trump has reinforced the perception among some in Israel’s right-wing government that the clout of liberal non-Orthodox Jews in the US is diminishing.

“Because there is a Republican administration in Washington, considered by the Prime Minister to be more sympathetic to Israel than the Obama or the Clinton administrations, it gave the Prime Minister the confidence to go ahead,” said Gideon Meir, the former director of Israel-Diaspora relations at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The government last Sunday said it was freezing an 18-month-old agreement to expand an extra plaza along the wall in Jerusalem’s Old City for the egalitarian worship favoured by Reform and Conservative Jews, as well as the Israeli feminist group Women of the Wall.

Read the article by Joshua Mitnick in the Sydney Morning Herald (from the Los Angeles Times).