Israel’s Supreme Court calls on government to respond to Western Wall prayer lawsuits


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court called on the Israeli government to respond to lawsuits regarding the establishment of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

The court on Friday set a deadline of June 4 for the government to respond to the lawsuits and resolve the crisis, Haaretz reported.

The court combined three different lawsuits dealing with aspects of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. The government has delayed responding to the lawsuits for at least the last six months.

Last month, Netanyahu told a delegation from the Union for Reform Judaism that he had appointed government minister Tzachi Hanegbi to help resolve issues between the haredi Orthodox parties and the Reform movement and other liberal groups to allow the plan for egalitarian prayer at Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall to go forward.

An agreement passed in January 2016 by the government for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall was negotiated by the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government.

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Under the agreement, which was approved by the Cabinet, the egalitarian section of the wall near Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and placed under the authority of a pluralist committee. The plan called for solidifying haredi Orthodox control over the site’s traditional Orthodox section.

Haredi Orthodox lawmakers and some from the Jewish Home and Likud parties in December submitted a bill to the Knesset to prevent non-Orthodox public prayer at the Western Wall.