Israel’s High Court of Justice has criticized the Israeli government over its stance on the issue of egalitarian prayer services at the Western Wall.

The court gave the state two weeks to clarify whether it was willing to implement a plan for a new egalitarian prayer space that was adopted in January 2016, but suspended in June 2017 by the Israeli cabinet.

Non-Orthodox groups, including Women of the Wall, petitioned the court in the wake of the government’s decision to suspend the compromise, which would have expanded the platform currently used for egalitarian prayer in an area adjacent to the Western Wall’s main plaza. The petitioners asked the court to force the government to implement the plan or alternatively, redivide the main plaza and grant non-Orthodox groups a special section.

“You (the state) held talks and reached a compromise, and then you pressed the pause button,” Chief Justice Miriam Naor said. “We are talking about an honorable solution that you have chosen to put on hold. Freezing a compromise is not a legal status, and this raises some questions.”

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate blasted the court, saying that “holding a religious service at the Western Wall that deviates from the accepted practice there will offend those who regularly pray there and will create division among the Jewish people.” JN

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