JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to either reinstate the Western Wall agreement with non-Orthodox groups or explain why it should not force the state to honor the deal.
“One can’t help but ask ‘What exactly happened here?’” Chief Justice Miriam Naor said at a hearing Thursday. “There was an agreement, they were working on it. But then the government came and said there isn’t one. It raises some questions.”
The hearing was in answer to a petition filed by the liberal Jewish movements in Israel and the Women of the Wall calling for the implementation of the agreement to expand and upgrade the egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall. The agreement puts the upgraded section on equal footing with the single-sex sections; it would be run by a special committee with no input from the Chief Rabbinate.
In June, the Cabinet suspended the deal passed in 2016 negotiated by the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government. The government’s haredi Orthodox coalition partners pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scrap the agreement.
The government has said it plans to go forward with the expansion of the egalitarian section despite the freeze.