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Western Wall compromise reached

Israel’s Conservative movement reached a compromise with the government over freedom of men and women to worship together at an area of the Western Wall. The movement, known in Israel as Masorti, dropped its Supreme Court appeal after the government agreed to enforce mixed groups’ ability to worship for free at Robinson’s Arch, a site at the southern end of the Western Wall. Mixed groups will be allowed to offer prayers daily until 10:30 a.m. on Friday evenings and holidays. In recent years, groups who came to the site after 8 a.m. were charged a fee to worship, despite previous agreements to allow them free access to the site. The conflict dates to a violent attack on Masorti worshipers in 1998 by fervently Orthodox protesters when a mixed group attempted to pray at the Western Wall. As part of a compromise at the time, the movement moved its egalitarian services from the main worship area to Robinson’s Arch. Two years ago, an entrance fee of about $7 per person was charged by the Archaeological Gardens to those who came to pray after 8 a.m. Last year the Masorti movement filed an appeal to the court claiming discrimination.