STATEMENT BY ERIC S. GOLDSTEIN, CEO, UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK

We are outraged at two Israeli government actions today that would destroy the fundamental principle that Israel, our Jewish homeland, is a place where all Jews can and must feel at home.

The decision by the Cabinet to suspend the landmark Kotel agreement is a rejection of the practice and traditions of millions of Jews around the world. The Kotel agreement would have protected worship for Jews of every denomination. Instead, a single group will continue to control prayer at the Kotel, restricting the rights of millions of Israeli and Diaspora Jews.

We are equally outraged by the government’s decision to move ahead with legislation that would recognize only those conversions performed by the Israeli Rabbinate. Were this to become law, the Rabbinate would have absolute control over conversion in Israel, potentially excluding conversions of thousands of people already converted outside the Israeli Rabbinate, and excluding such conversions going forward.

Today’s actions will only deepen the already accelerating divide between Diaspora Jews and Israel, precisely at a time when Jewish unity has never been more important.

We call on the government to immediately restore and move ahead with the Kotel agreement — a rare, unified compromise between all denominations that would be a landmark achievement for all Jews.

We also call on the government to promptly reverse its position on the conversion bill, which does such enormous damage to the hope and promise of Israel as a Jewish state for all of the Jewish people.