Interestingly, Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling’s immediate effect will likely be to close down many businesses which had taken advantage of the legal vacuum that existed since 2014 between the court, the municipality and the interior ministry over Shabbat work permits in Tel Aviv.
According to the Tel Aviv municipality, in 2014 there were 230 shops, including many candy stores, that conducted business on Shabbat, and this number has likely risen over the past three years. The high court’s ruling, relying on the original Tel Aviv bylaw, only permits 160 shops and candy stores to remain open on Shabbat. More than 70 stores that have stayed open on Shabbat since 2014 will now have to close.
An unintended consequence of the law is that more than 70 stores that have stayed open on Shabbat since 2014 will now have to close as they are over the permitted quota.
Meanwhile, the Haredi parties in PM Netanyahu’s coalition government are hard at work on a bill to extend the Interior Minister’s authority regarding permits enabling businesses to ignore Israel’s Shabbat laws. The new law will bypass the Supreme Court decision Wednesday which confirmed a Tel Aviv municipality bylaw letting a limited number of shops stay open on Shabbat.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) wants the legal authority to reverse municipal bylaws with countrywide consequences. At the same time, Deri will be upgrading the supervision and enforcement of the law governing work and rest times on Shabbat.
According to the Interior Ministry, the purpose of the new, proposed legislation is not to bypass the Supreme Court’s ruling, but to employ the points made by the court to preserve the status quo between religious and secular Jews in Israel. Essentially, the minister would be able to nullify a municipal bylaw of any kind—not only regarding labor on Shabbat—should he or she suspect that it would have a negative influence on other municipalities in Israel.