The Israeli Supreme Court heard petitions of WOW and other organizations regarding, among others, the Kotel Agreement this morning (Thursday). Justices Naor, Meltzer and Danziger presided and demanded sharp and to-the-point answers from petitioners’ advocates. The hearing ended approximately two hours after it had begun, when Chief Justice Naor ordered the State to either reinstate the Kotel Agreement, or explain to the court why it can’t force the State to do so.
From exchanges during the hearing, it seemed the court sees the Kotel Agreement as the feasible solution and is searching for legal apparatuses to compel the State to implement the agreement.
WOW board members and supporters were among the many present in the courtroom. Alongside them were 10 representatives of the ’67 paratroopers who fought at the Kotel during the Six Day War.
WOW Chairperson Anat Hoffman: “As we were negotiating the agreement we felt at times that we were making history. Today proved that feeling to be right. That feeling proved itself right today. The Agreement is the guiding light in the Court’s path to a just solution to the Kotel dispute. A solution which is, according to Justice Naor, acceptable, agreed, respectable and proper.”
Attorney Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, WOW board member who co-represented WOW in the petition: “There’s no other way to secure the constitutional right of women to pray at the Wall, except by making Robinson’s Arch an integral part of the Wall plaza, enabling every woman to pray according to her custom, and every girl to celebrate her Bat-Mitzvah. The Court delivered a clear message to the State that it must implement the Agreement, lest it’s made a viable verdict court decision.”
Attorny Orly Erez-Likhovski, who co-represented WOW in the petition: “The Supreme Court understood that the current position of the State is illegal and therefore asked the State to reconsider its withdrawal from the Kotel Agreement.”
Paratrooper Michael Lanir who fought and was critically wounded in the battle for Jerusalem: “We the paratroopers came to support Women of the Wall in their fight. We are not religious people, but we love “Am Yisrael” and appreciate its traditions. We understand that the repercussions any decisions relating to the Kotel can have. The Kotel is supposed to be the greatest common denominator for the Jewish people.”
About Women of the Wall:
WOW is a group of religious women from all denominations (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) who pray at the Western Wall every “Rosh Hodesh” (beginning of the month) and have been fighting for 28 years for equal rights for women in praying at the Western Wall. The group wishes to pray according to Jewish Law (Halacha), in a group and out loud; to read from a Torah scroll; and to put on tefillin and tallit, at the section known as the Women’s Section of the Western Wall.
Following a 3-year-negotiation, the Kotel Agreement was approved in government on January 31, 2016, by a 15 to 5 majority. The agreement stated that a third section be established, designated for Women of the Wall and pluralistic movements’ prayers. The agreement was voided by a cabinet vote on June 25th, 2017. The Supreme Court hearing of WOW petition was heard on August 31, 2017.