In a highly charged legal confrontation, attorneys representing the state and the Orthodox community will present their cases versus the Reform movement and Women of the Wall in a High Court hearing on Thursday regarding the demand for a non-Orthodox prayer section at the Kosel.
For the first time, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate will submit its petition independently, after the state refused to bundle its petition together with the Rabbinate.
The Rabbinate’s petition, filed early last week by attorney Doron Taubman, argues that the High Court has no jurisdiction in what is a purely religious matter. As such, it was considered an extraordinary rebuff to the Court, another governmental body saying in effect that the judges are not qualified to render judgments in cases pertaining to Jewish observance. The position was backed by dozens of pages of legal argument in the petition as to jurisdiction and the legal and religious status of the Kosel.
Among other things, it is to be decided whether the Rabbinate’s legal representatives will be allowed to make their case in person, or whether the judges will consider only the written petition.
The Liba Center, which supports the maintenance of the generations-old status quo at the Kosel, put out a call on Wednesday for the Orthodox public to attend the High Court hearing. This, to give moral support to attorney Taubman, and to countervail the effect of the Reform spectators who are expected to be there.
“There should not be a situation in which only the Reform arrive, while no one from our side is there, giving the appearance that only they care about this, but on our side it doesn’t interest anyone,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the Reform reportedly reversed their previous position, and in a 27-page document filed with the High Court, said that they no longer accept the compromise Kosel plan that grants them an expanded and upgraded area at Robinson’s Arch at the far end of the Kosel. Instead, they demanded to share access to an egalitarian prayer site through the main entrance to the Kosel plaza.
They are now demanding access to the main Kosel area for non-Orthodox prayer. They are also seeking representation in the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which manages the Kosel, Yisrael Hayom reported.