As many of you have heard by now, over the past few days there have been some significant developments regarding the task that Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked me to undertake, specifically drafting recommendations on the matter of access to the Kotel (Western Wall).
After spending a number of months researching and consulting with various stakeholders, Members of Knesset, and representatives and leaders of a range of Jewish denominations and organizations, we have established three guiding principles to create a suitable space for egalitarian prayer at the southern section of the Kotel. These guiding principles are based on the notion of One Kotel for One People. This requires a solution that respects the legitimate need for all Jews to be able to pray in accordance with their tradition. To this end, the proposed recommendations will focus on access, equality, and unity.
The Western Wall was divided into two sections in 1968, not long after Israel liberated the Old City during the Six Day War. The northern section was designated for prayer and the southern section, adjacent to the Mugrabi Bridge, was set aside for archaeological exploration. The excavations at the southern half of the Kotel have now been completed. It is time that we transform the Kotel into a site dedicated to prayer for all, as well a meaningful national symbol.
The southern part of the Kotel would serve as a space for diverse and egalitarian prayer. A plaza would be constructed to make it equal in size and height to the northern prayer area and it would remain open for prayer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This would allow all people to access and touch the Kotel. Finally, there would be a single entrance to the entire Kotel plaza, enabling all comers to choose the area in which they wish to pray, according to their customs and beliefs.
We have an historic opportunity to make the Kotel a symbol of Jewish unity and diversity instead of a place of contention and strife. I look forward to releasing my full recommendations once they are complete.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem,
Natan SharanskyProposed recommendations will focus on access, equality, and unityNews