עימותים ברחבת הכותל, ארכיון
עימותים ברחבת הכותל, ארכיון צילום: Hadas Parush/Flash90

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded Wednesday to the violent altercation which occurred at the Western Wall this morning when a group of Reform and Conservative women and men entered the plaza with eight Torah scrolls in violation of the ordinances regarding holy places.

"The unfortunate events which took place at the Western Wall plaza this morning do not contribute to attaining a consensus on how to regulate the prayers there, " said Netanyahu as reported by his bureau. "The Prime Minister and Knesset speaker emphasized yesterday to representatives of the non orthodox denominations that this is the time for conciliation and not for provocation."

The prime minister added that "violations of the status quo are not conducive to efforts to achieve a compromise."

This morning a brawl broke out between Reform and Conservative members and the officers of the Western Wall Heritage foundation together with haredi worshippers after the former brought Torah scrolls to the plaza.

Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of the "Women of the Wall" and a long-time radical feminist activist and member of the Israeli far-left said that “The Prime Minister is so close to implementing a historic solution to the conflict over the Western Wall,” referring to a conflict she is largely responsible for creating.

“While he himself supported this solution,” she added, referring to plans to create a separate prayer site at the Western Wall for Reform services, “he has been deterred from implementing it because of haredi [coalition] threats.” Religious Zionists rabbis, however, are also opposed to the actions of the Women of the Wall.

Though her monthly protest prayers at the Western Wall draw few supporters unless they are heavily advertised as provocations-to-be, Hoffman claims her movement enjoys the backing of “millions of supporters in Israel and across the world.”

The Western Wall Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz on Tuesday lamented the planned procession, calling upon organizers to cancel the event.

“Unfortunately, while the Prime Minister of Israel and his people are working to find a solution to this complex issue, a small group continues to do everything possible to inflame tensions and to turn this conflict into an eternal one.”

“I call upon those planning to participate in tomorrow’s demonstration, one that is illegal and against the directives of the Attorney General, to let the Prime Minister work out a solution to end this ‘civil war’ which you started.”