Lawsuit presses Israeli gov’t to follow through on Western Wall egalitarian plan


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the Women of the Wall have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to order the government to follow through on the plan to create the egalitarian prayer area next to the Western Wall.

Should the plan not be implemented, the lawsuit filed Thursday said the current Western Wall plaza should be divided into a third section to serve egalitarian worshippers.

The petition also called on the court to order the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to include non-Orthodox and female members, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, which saw a copy of the filing.

Under the agreement announced in January and approved by the Cabinet in a 15-5 vote, the egalitarian section at the wall near Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and placed under the authority of a pluralist committee. The plan called for solidifying haredi Orthodox control over the site’s traditional Orthodox section.

The agreement was negotiated among Women of the Wall, the site’s haredi Orthodox leadership, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israeli government, and the Reform and Conservative movements. All parties praised the decision as path breaking at the time.

Later, however, the religious partners backed away from the deal and in June, a group of Orthodox Jewish organizations filed a petition with the Supreme Court to prevent the establishment of the egalitarian section.

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