Netanyahu shares call to block pluralistic prayer service at Kotel

Deri, a long opponent of the group, wrote on Twitter that he and his fellow haredi MKs would be at the site on Friday to block the service from going ahead.

MEMBERS OF the Women of the Wall movement hold Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall last year. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MEMBERS OF the Women of the Wall movement hold Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall last year.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared a tweet by Shas leader Arye Deri calling to block a pluralistic prayer service planned at the Western Wall on Friday morning.

The service, organized by Women of the Wall, is set for Rosh Hodesh Kislev, the first day of the new month on the Jewish calendar as the organization does every month.

 Head of Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during memorial ceremony marking 26 years since the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Head of Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during memorial ceremony marking 26 years since the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

In recent years, these services have been flashpoints for clashes with haredi protestors and police who have tried to block the women from bringing a Torah scroll into the women’s section at the Jewish holy site.

Deri, a long opponent of the group, wrote on Twitter that he and his fellow haredi MKs would be at the site on Friday to block the service from going ahead. Netanyahu, closely aligned with the ultra-Orthodox parties, shared the tweet.

In April, Labor MK and Reform leader Rabbi Gilad Kariv brought a Torah scroll to the Western Wall plaza in defiance of the site’s regulations. It was used in a Rosh Hodesh prayer service by the Women of the Wall.

Regulations at the Western Wall prohibit bringing in Torah scrolls to the site. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, has banned the Women of the Wall from using Torah scrolls available for male prayer groups.

As an MK, Kariv was able to bring a small Torah scroll for the Rosh Hodesh prayer service without Western Wall Heritage Foundation security personnel being able to prevent his entry or confiscate it due to his parliamentary immunity.

The Women of the Wall and the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements in Israel have fought a decades-long battle for prayer rights and access for their prayer services at the site.

MK Kariv takes Torah scroll into Western Wall plaza  (credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)MK Kariv takes Torah scroll into Western Wall plaza (credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)
These organizations agreed to a compromise with the haredi parties in 2016, whereby the southern section of the Western Wall would be upgraded and recognized as an official holy site for progressive Jewish prayer by the government, in return for which they would waive their prayer rights at the central Western Wall plaza.
The haredi parties backtracked however and forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to indefinitely suspend the agreement in 2017.
A petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that the government implement the 2016 agreement, as well as a petition demanding that the regulations banning the use of external Torah scrolls at the site be annulled, are pending before the court.