Haredi Orthodox parties propose resolution to cancel Western Wall egalitarian agreement


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The haredi Orthodox parties in Israel’s government have proposed a new resolution that would rescind a government decision to create an official egalitarian section at the Western Wall.

The United Torah Judaism and Shas parties submitted the proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office in recent days, Army Radio first reported Sunday. The plan would return the “status quo” to the Western Wall, keeping in place the egalitarian prayer area erected at Robinson’s Arch, Army Radio reported.

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, approved the proposal.

In a statement issued Sunday to the media, the Women of the Wall group called it “outrageous” that the government would consider the proposal more than a year after approving an agreement for an egalitarian section governed by the liberal Jewish movements.

“Israel’s prime minister, who encouraged the various parties to reach an agreement, has yet to harness the courage to enforce it,” the statement said. “Netanyahu now cowardly continues the discrimination and exclusion of women at the Western Wall. In submitting to the will of the Haredi parties, the PM is sacrificing women’s rights to pray as they wish, be it egalitarian or traditional prayers.”



An agreement passed in January 2016 by the government for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall was negotiated by the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government.

Under the agreement, which was approved by the Cabinet, the egalitarian section of the wall near Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and placed under the authority of a pluralist committee. The section would have a common entrance with the rest of the Western Wall plaza. The plan also called for solidifying haredi Orthodox control over the site’s traditional Orthodox section.

Haredi Orthodox lawmakers and some from the Jewish Home and Likud parties in December submitted a bill to the Knesset to prevent non-Orthodox public prayer at the Western Wall.

The proposal reported Sunday comes as the government faces a deadline of one week to respond to the Supreme Court, which in response to several lawsuits a year-and-a-half ago called on the government to explain why it was not creating the mixed section at the Western Wall.

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