Open access to Western Wall, security needs conflict.
'Pope's visit won't stop us from praying at Western Wall'
Western Wall rabbi, Jewish Quarter residents and regular worshippers at holy site protest police's reported plans to limit access to Wall during pope's visit
Ari Galahar, Ynet
Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel in about a month and-a-half is already causing concern among those who fear that the strict security measures around the pontiff would prevent access to holy sites in Jerusalem.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch has already approached the police on the matter and demanded that free access to the Wall and the Mount of Olives is maintained throughout the high-profile visit.
Responding to reports that Benedict's planned stay in east Jerusalem and his scheduled visits to the Old City and the Western Wall are expected to lead to the closing of major routes in the city, Rabinovitch said: "It's inconceivable that the pope's visit would hurt worshippers at the Western Wall, some of whom have been praying there daily."
Meanwhile, residents of the Old City's Jewish Quarter announced this weekend that should the police decide to limit access to the Western Wall during the visit, they would stage a protest at the place in response.
Gabi Sheinin, one of the Quarter's residents, stated: "Just like the visit of a chief rabbi at the Vatican doesn't cause the Vatican to shut down, we expect the same approach when the pope visits a place holy to the Jewish people."
If the police eventually close down the Western Wall, the quarter's residents would assemble at the place and refuse to leave, Sheinin added: "Anyone who wants to expel Jews from the Western Wall plaza is welcome to try and drag us out of there."
The regular worshipers at the Wall stressed that they had no objection to the pope's visit, as long as it did not interrupt with their daily prayers there.