Reform Jewish delegation calls meeting with Netanyahu ‘candid’

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A delegation from the Union for Reform Judaism had a “wide-ranging and candid conversation” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the group said.

The delegation, led by the URJ’s president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, met with Netanyahu for an hour on Sunday, according to a statement issued by the congregational arm of the movement at the end of a weeklong leadership mission to Israel.

During a discussion of issues of religious pluralism in Israel, Netanyahu told the delegation that he had appointed government minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who attended the meeting, to help resolve issues between the haredi Orthodox parties and the Reform movement and other liberal groups to allow the plan for egalitarian prayer at Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall to go forward.

The delegation, which met Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stressed its support for the two-state solution as it had during its meeting with Abbas. It also discussed “concerns about the expansion of settlements,” the statement said.

The Reform leaders also expressed “concern about maintaining a bipartisan American consensus in support of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”

The statement said that Netanyahu and his staff reviewed the threats to Israel’s security and emphasized that the Iranian nuclear threat remains by far the most significant danger.