Tzipi Livni at the Western Wall 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy SODAVIDEO/The Tzipi Livni Party)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni shot off a letter on Wednesday night to Economy and
Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who also serves as religious services minister,
warning him that the regulations he is drafting for accepted practice at the
Western Wall should not contravene a recent ruling of the Jerusalem District
Court, permitting pluralistic Jewish practices at the site.
been looking into revising the current regulations following a court decision in
April that reinterpreted existing laws and allowed women who take part in the
Women of the Wall services to pray according to their own customs without fear
of being arrested.
Livni wrote to Bennett saying that the court ruling
allowing women to pray according to their own customs was acceptable to her in
its “pluralistic and egalitarian interpretation” of the law.
regulations, which had been upheld by a Supreme Court ruling of 2003 and
directives issued by the Justice Ministry in 2005, forbade customs not in
accordance with Orthodox practice, including the wearing of prayer shawls and
tefillin, reading from the Torah and other ceremonies usually performed by
“I believe the time is ripe, from a legal and socio-cultural point
of view, to implement tolerant and pluralistic policies at the Western Wall,”
Livni wrote in her letter.
“Women must be allowed to pray according to
their own way and faith, especially when they are doing so in the current
women’s section,” Livni added.
In response, Bennett accused Livni of
carrying out a purpose- built media exercise since he had not received the
letter due to the Shavuot holiday.
Writing on his Facebook page, he said
that her intervention would damage his efforts at reaching a compromise with
both sides which, he said, he was attempting in order not to have to draft any
new regulations at all.
“Livni did not speak to me, did not consult with
me in order to understand where we’re standing in the delicate efforts to reach
a compromise,” Bennett wrote.
“Like an elephant in a china shop, she has
greatly damaged the chances of reaching a compromise,” he said.
retorted that Bennett had not contacted her on the matter and not updated her
about the compromise “that he claims he is conducting on the issue of the Women
of the Wall, so he can only blame himself.”
The Women of the Wall thanked
Livni for her stance, via a statement to the media.