Orthodox Jews set to lose out as Netanyahu approves Western Wall reform


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The Independent Online

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given his approval to a plan that will reform praying at Judaism's holiest location, the Western Wall, in a move that will wrest control of the site from orthodox Jews for the first time.

The issue of access to the Western Wall has become increasingly controversial, and has been highlighted by a group called the Women of the Wall who have insisted on praying at the Wall each month, wearing traditional religious clothing, which was outlawed by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2003.

In the run-up to January's general election, Mr Netanyahu asked Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, to draw up plans at reforming the site. Mr Sharansky's idea is the building of a new, 'egalitarian' section of the site, which is will be open to all to pray. That would inevitably mean that the orthodox community, which currently governs that site, would lose its monopoly. Orthodox Jews have protested loudly at prayer sessions organised by the Women of the Wall.