Kotel plans to change


V Two ministers have resigned from a committee responsible for praying arrangements at the Western Wall following pressure not to authorise a pluralistic prayer area at the holy site.

Culture Minister Miri Regev, who chaired the committee, was one of two ministers to step down from the body as a row over allowing non-Orthodox groups to pray in the plaza deepened.

Ms Regev, who is secular, has intensified her criticism of progressive Jews in recent days, saying in an interview last week: “I don’t want to see women wearing tallitot at the Kotel.”

She added on Sunday: “I met Reform Jews in Argentina. They’re very nice when they’re Reform in Argentina. When they come here they should abide by our laws.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also resigned from the committee, which was formed to find ways of implementing a High Court ruling that ordered the completion of renovation work at the southern end of the Western Wall.

The archaeological park there was to formally become an area where men and women could pray together, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave in to pressure from right-wing members of his party and abandoned the plans in June last year.

Orthodox members of the Likud are opposed to granting progressive Jews official recognition at the Wall, while diaspora Jews have long campaigned for a prayer space without gender segregation.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Equalities Minister Gila Gamliel have agreed to join the committee at Mr Netanyahu’s request, but Charedi ministers are expected to continue trying to obstruct its work by political and legal means.

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