The Attorney General's (A-G) office has published the State's response to the petitions submitted regarding the preparation of the southern Western Wall plaza, known as Ezrat Israel.
It was stated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position is to continue the implementation of the directive from 2017, according to which, the renovation of the southern plaza will "continue as quickly as possible," and that the "management of the southern plaza will continue in accordance with the format that has existed in recent years."
Also, according to the announcement of the A-G, "for the purpose of preparing the southern plaza [at the Kotel], in the upcoming days, the Prime Minister's Office will issue an instruction to submit an application for a building permit."
"The Prime Minister's position is that a solution to a sensitive and complex issue of this kind, part of which concerns the issue of freedom of worship, will be promoted by the executive authority. Therefore, at this time, the political authorities should be allowed to continue promoting the solution to the issue."
Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski, Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) responded to the response of the State and said that "the state's announcement once again proves the incompetence shown by the government in the holiest place for the Jewish people and conduct that results in a severe violation of the rights of all non-Orthodox Jews."
She added that at the Ezrat Israel prayer plaza, "there hasn't been actual physical access to the stones of the Kotel for five years," since a large stone from the Kotel fell onto the wooden platform."The state does not budget the egalitarian prayer section," Erez-Likhovski said. "We hope that in the upcoming hearing, the Supreme Court will clarify to the state that every Jew must be allowed to pray in their own way at the Western Wall, without any delays."
Noam Party response
The far-right Noam Party has also responded to the response of the government: "The position of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the highest spiritual authority in the State of Israel, has always been that 'the Western Wall is holy throughout its entire length - from its northern corner to its southern corner.'"
The Noam Party isn't happy about the fact that Netanyahu is intending to renovate this section for the use of Reform and Conservative Jews.
They also think that prayer with a separation between men and women should be allowed at the egalitarian prayer plaza.
"It is unthinkable that the state would express a position that prohibits praying in our holy place with a partition, as required by the Halacha [Jewish law] and as required by law."
Noam and its chairman, Deputy Minister Avi Maoz, would like to introduce a law, they call the "Kotel Bill," which sees all parts of the Western Wall as equal in the eyes of the law and therefore ban the option for egalitarian prayers. According to Noam, their suggested bill "is the sole solution to the Supreme Court's improper and illegal intervention in the holy sites in general and near the Western Wall in particular."