Israeli Government: Western Wall Is Not For Egalitarian Prayer
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet has rescinded a government decision to create an official egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall.
The decision announced on Sunday comes after the haredi Orthdox United Torah Judaism party and the Sephardi Orthodox Shas party, both members of the current government, put pressure on Netanyahu to scrap the agreement, including threatening to leave the coalition government.
As part of the decision, work on the egalitarian prayer area erected at Robinson’s Arch, located on the southern edge of the Western Wall plaza, will continue.
The prime minister has asked Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi to formulate a new plan that will be acceptable to the religious parties.
The decision negates an agreement passed in January 2016 by the government for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall, which was negotiated by the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government.
Under that agreement, the egalitarian section of the wall near Robinson’s Arch was to be expanded and placed under the authority of a pluralist committee. The section would have had a common entrance with the rest of the Western Wall plaza.