Orthodox Jewish lawmakers announced Thursday they intend to fight a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court allowing a limited number of mini markets to open on the Sabbath.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of permitting shops, entertainment centers and drugstores in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. The decision, written by Court President Miriam Na’or, said that a 2014 bylaw enacted by the Tel Aviv municipality is “balanced, takes into consideration the various rights, the city’s image and the status of the Sabbath day.”
Under the ruling, permits are to be granted to 165 mini markets and kioks in Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa), all measuring 500 square meters or less. They will be distributed among nine districts in the city, with more permits being granted in areas with high secular populations, and fewer being granted in areas with higher traditional or observant populations, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The leaders of the Sephardic Shas and Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) parties, Bayit Yehudi party chair and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and party member and government minister Uri Ariel called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene an urgent coalition meeting to deal with the issue.
Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich had already called on his Orthodox coalition colleagues Wednesday to demand the prime minister activate an element in the coalition agreement which determines that should the Supreme Court damage the country’s religious status quo, it would be remedied immediately through legislation.
Shas Interior Minister Aryeh Deri called for an emergency meeting of hareidi-religious and national-religious Knesset members to do exactly that — to “regulate the status of Shabbat” through specific legislation aimed at protecting the nation’s religious status quo. He also asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to ask the Court to reconsider the case with a new hearing before an expanded panel of judges.
UTJ Health Minister Yaacov Litzman also said his party would propose legislation seeking to undermine the ruling.
His party colleague, MK Moshe Gafni, added the party’s concern that the change in the religious status quo violates the coalition agreement. He also said the “poor” decision would turn the Sabbath into a regular work day both in Tel Aviv and around the country.
Ilana Mesika and TPS contributed content to this report.