Sharansky Gets Green Light from Netanyahu on Western Wall Expansion

New Area Would Allow for Egalitarian Worship at the Kotel

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By JTA

Published April 22, 2013.
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Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was given a green light by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue his plan for a permanent egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

Netanyahu told Sharansky to continue reviewing the situation with Zvi Hauser, the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Jewish Agency spokesman Benjamin Rutland told JTA on Monday. The progress was first reported earlier in the day by the Israeli daily Haaretz, which cited unnamed sources.

Netanyahu and Sharansky met last week in London, where they were attending the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and discussed the plan and its progress.

The plan calls for the Robinson’s Arch archeological site at the southern part of the Western Wall to be used as a permanent space for egalitarian prayer. Under the proposal, the Western Wall plaza would be expanded to encompass the additional prayer space. The two sections of the plaza, separated by the Mugrabi Bridge, would share a common entrance.

Sharansky was charged by Netanyahu last year with finding a solution to mounting tensions over women’s prayer at the Western Wall. After three months of consultations with a wide spectrum of Israeli and American Jewish leaders, Sharansky unveiled the proposal to Jewish leaders earlier this month in New York.

“One Western Wall for one Jewish people,” Sharansky said in a statement following his New York presentation. “In this way, the Kotel will once again be a symbol of unity among the Jewish people, and not one of discord and strife.”


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