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    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a news coneference together with German chancellor Angela Merkel during the German-Israeli government consultations at the Chancellery in Berlin,  Tuesday Feb. 16, 2016.

    Netanyahu’s 'Betrayal': Bibi Gives in to Ultra-Orthodox to Secure His Government

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing criticism from international liberal Jews regarding his recent approval of unpopular proposals by Ultra-Orthodox parties in a bid to secure his slim government majority.

    Since the March 2015 election, Netanyahu has ruled with an extremely narrow coalition, where even the smallest coalition partner could conceivably cost him the majority.

    Over the past week, Israel's Ultra-Orthodox minority, represented by Shas and United Torah Judaism, issued a series of demands related to their religious sensibilities, and Netanyahu was forced to give in to the pressure.

    First, Ultra-Orthodox groups successfully pushed the government to call off all repair work on Israel's railroads during the Sabbath.

    Second, the minority parties demanded Israel cancel the agreement on the Western Wall reached in January last year, in which an egalitarian prayer space was to be established where men and women could worship at the holy site together.

    Third, the Ultra-Orthodox demanded that the state only recognize conversions performed by the Chief Rabbinate (controlled by the ultra-Orthodox), making Jewish converts abroad no longer recognized as Jews within Israel.

    Analysts and even some Knesset members warn that by giving in to the demands, Netanyahu is deepening the divide between Israel and more liberal streams of Judaism, which make up the majority of the world's Jewish diaspora.

    "The prime minister made this decision without even a discussion with key leaders of the North American Jewish communities," said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism in North America and a member of the Jewish Agency's board of governors, as reported by the Concord Monitor.

    "The decision cannot be seen as anything other than a betrayal, and I see no point to a meeting at this time."

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    ultra-orthodox, Knesset, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
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