An expanded, seven-judge panel of the Israeli Supreme Court convened Jan. 14 for a lengthy session on a contested issue tearing the Jewish people apart. Headed by Chief Justice Esther Hayut, the panel heard arguments in a suit brought by Reform and Conservative Jewish groups against the State of Israel, demanding that it implement the Western Wall outline.
The outline, a compromise, was first brought before the Cabinet in January 2016 and was approved by a large majority of ministers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, reneged on the agreement soon thereafter. The outline allows the creation of an egalitarian prayer area adjacent to the Western Wall — considered the holiest site for the Jewish people. Representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements will participate in managing the space, in which both genders could pray according to rituals of progressive Judaism.