The Reform movement, the Conservative movement, and the ultra-liberal Women of the Wall group have all expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to approve a new five-year-plan for upgrading the Western Wall plaza area. NIS 110 million have been budgeted to improve the infrastructure at the site and make it more accessible; meanwhile, the Western Wall Compromise Plan that “progressive” Jewish groups have been pushing for over the past few years has yet to be implemented, causing Ministers Tamar Zandberg, Nachman Shai, Omer Barlev, and Elazar Stern to vote against the five-year-plan.
“For years, Israeli governments have been petitioning for huge budgets for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, at a time when the egalitarian Ezrat Yisrael plaza does not receive government funding, other than for security and cleaning services,” the groups said, referring to the space at the southern end of the plaza which has been designated for non-traditional prayer without a separation between men and women.
“It is unfortunate that the current government also continues to allocate budgets to the amount of NIS 110 million for construction work, infrastructure upgrades, and educational activities for students, immigrants, and soldiers – all of which are to be directed toward the gender-segregated plaza,” they added. “The time has come for the Israeli government to immediately implement the Western Wall Compromise and invest in an egalitarian and respectful plaza that will be open to egalitarian prayer for the general public from Israel and the Diaspora.”
Dr. Yizhar Hess, Deputy and Acting Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said: “The government's decision is puzzling. How are we to understand this huge sum being invested (yet again) in the Western Wall Heritage Foundation? This is impossible to comprehend not only in terms of democracy and equality but also in terms of Zionism. They could have chosen to fix the rift with world Jewry, implement the Western Wall Compromise, and send a message of reconciliation to Jews all around the world. Instead they chose this. Netanyahu made promises and disappointed us, but why is the current government continuing in his corrupt ways?”