State attorney threatens to open non-Orthodox Kotel section

Petitions by the national-religious group B'Tsedek demand to dismantle the existing egalitarian prayer platform, arguing that it was built illegally.

MEMBERS OF Women of the Wall pray at the Kotel. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MEMBERS OF Women of the Wall pray at the Kotel.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The state will support demands by progressive Jewish movements for a prayer section in the central Western Wall plaza, if legal petitions to the High Court of Justice against the renovation of the egalitarian section at the end of the Western Wall by hardline National-Religious groups are not retracted, a representative of the State Attorney’s Office threatened on Thursday.
The state attorney’s representative, Dr. Yuval Roitman, made his comments during a hearing of the High Court on petitions by the hardline National-Religious group B’Tzedek, and the Women for the Western Wall organization, which opposes non-Orthodox prayer anywhere along the length of the Western Wall.
The petition by the Women for the Wall argued that a decision last year by the Ministerial Committee for Archaeological Affairs to approve plans to renovate and expand the existing egalitarian section was not legitimate, due to the resignation of several members of the committee before the decision was made.
B’Tzedek’s petition goes even further amid demands to dismantle the existing egalitarian prayer platform, arguing that it is illegal because, when it was built by former religious services minister Naftali Bennett in 2013, it was constructed without the required permits.
Since the indefinite suspension in June 2017 of the new Western Wall agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to upgrade the existing egalitarian prayer site with a budget of NIS 19 million.
However, efforts to carry out the renovations have been stymied by bureaucratic obstacles and fierce opposition by conservative National Religious organizations that oppose non-Orthodox prayer anywhere at the Western Wall -- even at the southern end, which is not physically part of the central plaza.
The state attorney’s representative said during the High Court hearing on Thursday that if these petitions are not retracted, the state would support the demands of petitions by the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements for a progressive prayer section at the main Western Wall, a worse situation for the opponents of the non-Orthodox movements than a progressive prayer section at the southern end of the site.
“This is a legal ambush by the state regime of the first order,” fumed Attorney Harel Arnon, representing the petitioners.
“The Prime Minister decides personally to advance a decision that contravenes the cabinet decision [to suspend the 2016 agreement] in defiance of an existing, statutory committee,” he continued. “He fires ministers and doesn’t hold a hearing or invite those who oppose his position, and that’s how he makes decisions,” Arnon said.
non-Orthodox prayer
www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Western-Wall-egalitarian-renovations-to-go-ahead-despite-Ctee-shakeup-561469

 anywhere at the Western Wall
www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Orthodox-group-asks-for-no-compromise-on-Kotel-562507