Mandelblit said that anybody violating the new terms could be subject to forced removals by the police.
In making the decision, the attorney general is adopting a new and strict interpretation of a court ruling, which permitted the feminist group to participate unconditionally in the central plaza.
The decision was reached following a request by the police and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation to separate monthly prayer services held by members of the group from other women who visit the site in order to reduce tensions that erupt between the two.
The police explained that the main aim was to enable security for the Women of the Wall, but they have refused to abide by new conditions, demanding that they be allowed to pray wherever they choose and calling for intervention from the attorney general.
In a recent meeting in the Justice Ministry, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Affairs Amit Merari accepted the position of the police and the Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch that even though the matter was not mentioned in the court’s ruling, the custodian is authorized to prescribe provisions by which all worshippers are obligated, to ensure the implementation of the right to pray, and to maintain public order in the area.
As a result of the agreements reached at the meeting, on Wednesday, the legal department of the Ministry of Religious Services sent letters to both Women of the Wall and women who are opposed to them, informing them ahead of the Jewish calendar month of Tamuz next week that if they violate decisions made by the custodian—including if the former prays outside their designated plaza or if the latter stages loud demonstrations against them—restraining orders will be taken out against them for a prolonged period of time.
“This guideline applies to all of us,” Mandelblit emphasized. “The custodian will be permitted to exercise the powers vested in him as stipulated by the law to act against anybody who acts in contravention of the custodian’s instructions or against the prayer arrangements in the Kotel,” Mandelblit said.
According to one attorney who represents a group opposed to Women of the Wall, the restraining orders should already be taken out against the activists since, she argues, they have been “brazenly” violating laws in order to trigger friction and disputes at the Kotel, despite the fact that no one prevents them from praying as much as anyone, while respecting the customs of the site.
According to another attorney, the beginning of the last Jewish calendar month witnessed a “serious escalation” in the violations of the rules by the Women of the Wall when they refused to obey police orders, barging into the area and pushed other women over while they were in the middle of praying.