No New Space for Women at Kotel (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Maayana Miskin 04/03/12)
INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS
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The Supreme Court decided Tuesday not to make a final decision
regarding the expansion of the prayer space for women at the Kotel
(Western Wall). The court has ordered the National Council for
Planning and Construction to hold an additional hearing regarding the
In the meantime, women who pray at the Kotel will be forced to use a
crowded space that Kotel rabbi Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch has said is
at least 50 percent too small.
The state decided years ago to replace a dangerously old bridge
leading to the Mughrabi Gate, also known as the Rambam Gate, on the
Temple Mount. Problems with the bridge led to less space in the
women’s prayer section, leading to plans to expand the women’s prayer
area while rebuilding.
However, Muslim leaders were angered by both the bridge to the Temple
Mount and plans to make the prayer space bigger. Dr. Mohammed
Masalaheh filed suit against the plan, arguing that it was a
violation of the existing “status quo” between religious groups in
the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem District Court partially upheld Masalaheh’s suit,
ruling that the state could replace the bridge without expanding the
Jewish prayer space at the Kotel. “Expanding the space used for
prayer is a complex and sensitive matter, which among other things
has religious aspects,” ruled the judge, although she noted that
there is no blanket prohibition on expanding prayer space at the
Muslim prayer is not held at the Kotel or in the space that would be
used for expansion, but rather on top of the Temple Mount itself, in
the place considered by Judaism to be the most holy spot on earth.
The state and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation filed an appeal
against the court decision. Expanding the women’s prayer section is
necessary and does not affect the religious “status quo,” as the
space to be expanded into is already defined as part of “the Temple
Mount and the Western Wall,” they argued.
Justice Miriam Naor wrote the verdict, which explained that the
Supreme Court cannot issue a ruling until the planning committee
holds a new hearing, as the topic of expanding the women’s prayer
section was not raised in the original hearing. (IsraelNationalNews ©
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