Rabbi of Western Wall backs liberal prayer section proposal, would end Orthodox monopoly

The rabbi of Judaism's holiest prayer site has backed a proposal to establish a prayer section for mixed-gender worship, a groundbreaking motion that could end a decades-old fight against Orthodox monopoly of the area.

Western Wall rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich told Army Radio Wednesday that he does not like non-Orthodox prayer, but would tolerate it in a separate section to end intra-Jewish fighting at the site. Orthodox prayers ban men and women from worshipping together.

The semi-governmental Jewish Agency said Tuesday it drafted a plan to expand the Western Wall plaza to create a permanent area for mixed-gender and women-led prayer. The plan will be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu asked the agency to draft a solution after an uproar over the arrests of liberal female worshippers.