Shalom Life | February 22, 2014

Women of the Wall Issue Difficult Demands

The group have confirmed they will make the move to the egalitarian section of the Western Wall, if their 16 conditions are met

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: October 28th, 2013 in News » Israel

Women of the Wall Issue Difficult Demands

As part of their ongoing conflicts with other religious groups, on Monday, the Women of the Wall presented a list of 16 conditions that, when met, would see them move their monthly prayer service to the egalitarian section of the Western Wall’s Plaza.

Until the demands are met, they said, they would continue to hold services in the women’s section, and continue to insist upon their rights to hold said services, Torah scroll and all, according to the Times of Israel.

The 16 conditions came ahead of their meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and deal with such matters as the egalitarian section of the wall’s size, appearance, management, accessibility, budget, and the name. With all these in mind, the group mandated that the egalitarian section be given treatment that is equal to that of the Western Wall plaza.

Speaking to the JTA, the Women of the Wall spokesperson Shira Pruce said that "This is not as simple as saying we’re leaving the women’s section and going somewhere else. We’re coming into this with our eyes open. We’re staying in the women’s section until the last condition has been met.”

The list, should the government agree to it, could take years to be implemented.

Some of the conditions are in line with the outline for the third section of the wall that was presented in April, while some are already implemented, such as the condition that the section be free of charge and open 24 hours a day.

That said, some of the other conditions will not be quite as easy to fulfil. The first condition is that the new section be raised and elevated to the same height as the existing plaza, and be adjacent to the wall proper. This would require approval from the Islamic Wakf, a controlling body on the Temple Mount who, until now, have been resistant to changes on the site.

Likewise, other conditions could lead to political conflict. One condition demands that the Western Wall Heritage Foundation institute a new body to run the remainder of the plaza (outside of the pre-existing men and women’s sections), consisting of equal representation and membership from Women of the Wall. The remainder of the plaza would be run under the Women of the Wall’s conditions. They also demanded that they be allowed to bring a Torah scroll to the women’s section for their service, something which is currently prohibited.

Pruce indicated that the Women of the Wall could be flexible on some conditions, saying that “We aren’t going to argue over one centimetre here or there. We’re going into negotiations, that’s a given, but every single condition is a part of a vision that creates equality.”

A joint plan for the wall’s egalitarian section is expected soon.

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