State asks Supreme Court to reject petitions on Western Wall

State informs Supreme Court that the Western Wall deal has been canceled and it was decided instead to renovate the mixed gender area.

Orli Harari ,

Kobi Finkler

The State of Israel on Monday submitted to the Supreme Court its response to appeals by the Reform movement demanding that the Western Wall deal be implemented and that the composition of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation be changed to reflect other streams of Judaism.

The state requested that the appeals be rejected and explained that the Western Wall deal was canceled and that it was decided instead to renovate “Ezrat Yisrael”, the agreed-upon mixed gender area, at a cost of 19 million shekels.

The state noted that “Ezrat Yisrael” serves various elements, and therefore it is sufficient for the Reform and Conservative movements to use.

Anat Hoffman, head of Women of the Wall, rejected the state’s response and said, "We do not buy what the state is trying to sell to the Supreme Court as a substitute for the deal. We hope that the Supreme Court will insist on our right to pray at the Western Wall, as part of the full implementation of the plan, or as part of the division of the Western Wall plaza into three sections: Men, women and mixed gender.”

The Conservative movement said that "the government's response to the Supreme Court is not surprising, it is simply shameful. We could have saved all of us four years of negotiations and let the Supreme Court rule on this issue long time ago, but we believed that a compromise was preferable to internal quarrels. It appears as though we were wrong. A government that does not abide by agreements it signs with the Jewish people is a government that has lost its moral validity to claim to be the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

The appeals to the Supreme Court followed the Cabinet’s recent decision to freeze the Western Wall deal and not to renew it. Any request to renew the outline will require a new decision from the government.

The plan would have included the construction of a large and significant prayer plaza south of the Mugrabi Bridge, which will become an integral part of the Western Wall complex. Mixed prayer would be allowed between men and women at the plaza.

The decision angered the Reform and Conservative movements. Following that outrage, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to try and formulate a new agreed upon plan.