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Sep 16

Israel Supreme Court demands swift action on Kotel deal

 

Israel’s Supreme Court this week slammed the Netanyahu government for ignoring the agreement to open the Western Wall to women and non-Orthodox Jews, accusing it of “foot-dragging” and pandering to a small minority.

In an unusual motion, the Court granted Orly Erez-Likhovski, Director of the Legal Department of the Reform movement, three weeks to file a petition addressing the government’s failure to implement the plan negotiated in January by several streams of Progressive and Conservative Judaism with the former Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit.

That agreement put into place a plan under which the Israeli government would open an inaccessible section on the southern part of the Western Wall for pluralistic prayer that would not be under the supervision of the Western Wall rabbi.

“Enough is enough,” said Justice Miriam Naor, the Supreme Court president, criticizing the state prosecutor for defending the government’s “foot-dragging on various occasions in the last eight months, since the government approved the plan.”

“Do you expect us to extract the chestnuts from the fire for you?” Naor asked, using a Hebrew term for performing a difficult task.

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein blasted the state for its failure to enact the Mandelblit agreement, saying that the Wall, as it is currently managed, represents not the will of the majority in Israel but a small minority of the population. This failure, he added, was due only to “an article in a Haredi newspaper”.

Anat Hoffman, leader of Woman of the Wall movement, said: “I wore my Women of the Wall tallit to the hearing and had the deep satisfaction of hearing a Supreme Court justice utter the words ‘for God’s sake’ when he demanded that the government implement its own decision to open a pluralistic Western Wall plaza where women, Reform and Conservative Jews can pray as is their custom.”

“We are gratified that the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has accepted our long-held argument that the Western Wall cannot be held hostage by a minority sect. The state has been put on notice that the court is prepared to intervene if the government refuses to implement its own plan. This will be a sweet New Year.”