The Jerusalem District Court has partially rejected a plan to expand the women’s
section at the Western Wall, which included plans to replace the Mugrabi
The structure is a temporary wooden bridge that leads from
the Western Wall Plaza to the Mugrabi Gate entrance to the Temple Mount. The
court rejected the expansion of the women’s prayer area, but will allow the
construction of a new bridge.
The decision was a victory for Mahmoud
Masalha, a Temple Mount scholar who initiated the appeal of the proposed
renovations. He accused the Western Wall Heritage Foundation of using the new
bridge as an excuse to expand the women’s section, violating delicate “status
quo” agreements in the area.
Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel
Rabinovich roundly condemned the decision.
“The significance of the High
Court’s [sic] decision is to change the temporary injustice suffered by women at
the Western Wall into a permanent and unacceptable solution,” Rabinovich said in
a statement. “Thousands of women visit and pray at the Western Wall every day,
forcing them to continue crowding into an area that’s at least 50 percent
smaller than the area they should receive, all thanks to political causes and
anti-Semitism, which are using the law like a hatchet to attack the Western
According to Muslim tradition, the Mugrabi Gate is the only gate
through which non-Muslims can enter the Temple Mount. When part of the original
earthen ramp collapsed during a snowstorm in 2004, the temporary bridge erected
to replace it lopped off about a third of the women’s section in front of the
Excavations beneath the bridge as part of an effort to strengthen
its support beams sparked international Muslim protests in February
The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee approved construction
of a new ramp in March of last year. Earlier this year, Masalha filed
against the project.
On Wednesday, Rabinovich said he would appeal to the
Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem District Planning Commission,
under the aegis of the Interior Ministry, to overturn the court’s