Israel to Tell High Court It Stands by Decision Against Egalitarian Prayer at Kotel

Prosecutors: 'Prime minister decided not to bring up the matter for another debate by the Israeli government'

Women of the Wall activists blowing shofars in the Western Wall Plaza, August 23, 2017.
Hila Shiloni

The state plans to tell the High Court of Justice on Tuesday that it will not retract its decision to freeze the Western Wall compromise, which would have established an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall, Haaretz has learned.

“The request by the honorable court that the state respondents inform whether they are prepared to reconsider implementing the Western Wall plan that was frozen was brought by the attorney general to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” the state’s response reads. “After considering the matter the prime minister decided not to bring up the matter at hand for another debate by the Israeli government.”

Three weeks ago, during a hearing on the appeal filed by the Women of the Wall organization and the Reform and Conservative movements, High Court Justices Miriam Naor, Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger asked the state to also give its opinion on whether the court has the authority to impose the compromise on the state. On this the state responded, “There was no fault in the government decision-making even as the processes that are in the headlines were pending before this honorable court.”

Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel, said, “The prime minister continues to demonstrate contempt for millions of Reform and Conservative Jews and isn’t correcting the enormous damage caused to Israel-Diaspora relations. Given the government’s rude behavior and the violation of its commitments to the non-Orthodox streams and Jewish organizations, we have no choice but to continue the public and legal struggle. The fact that most Israeli citizens support our position will lead to our struggle being successful in the end.”

Attorney Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, said, “The court asked two questions and the state answered ‘no’ and ‘no.’ It’s clear to most government ministers that the compromise plan for the Western Wall is logical and necessary; they are really hoping that the court will pull their chestnuts out of the fire, and still the prime minister cannot summon up the courage to tell his Haredi partners that enough is enough, and to unfreeze the compromise, and that’s sad.

“We thought that perhaps, in the spirit of the [Hebrew] month of Elul, a moment before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the cabinet would wake up and respond to the court’s appeal, but we were wrong,” Hess continued. “The Israeli government could have given the Jewish people a gift for the holiday, but it chose, once again, to spit in its face.”