18 Jewish House members press Netanyahu on pluralism

18 Jewish House members press Netanyahu on pluralism

WASHINGTON — Eighteen Jewish Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives wrote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing disappointment in his rollback of religious pluralism reforms.

“We write to express our profound concerns about recent decisions that seem to call into question the legitimacy and equal status of non-Orthodox Jews,” said the letter sent Thursday.

Among the decisions they cited were the June decision by Netanyahu’s Cabinet to put a hold on a 2016 agreement to expand an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall and a pending Knesset bill that would consolidate power over conversions performed in Israel under the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.

“Like our Jewish constituents we believe are and must remain am echad, one people united by history and faith,” said the letter, signed by all but three of the 21 Jewish Democrats in the House. There are also two Jewish Republicans in the body.

The letter echoes a similar plea from seven Jewish U.S. senators sent earlier this month to Netanyahu.

It is rare for U.S. lawmakers to comment on internal Israeli politics, especially unrelated to national security or military affairs.